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By D. B. KELLOGG
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2010 Master Sales, Inc.
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Anne's story begins in Northampton, in the central part of England about sixty miles northwest of London as the crow flies. Born there in 1612, Anne was the second child of Thomas and Dorothy Dudley. They already had four-year-old Samuel, who was to remain their only son. Thomas and Dorothy had married in 1603, the year of Queen Elizabeth's death.
Anne's mother, Dorothy Yorke, was born in 1582 in the county of Northamptonshire; she was "a gentlewoman both of good estate and good extraction." Dorothy's father was Edmund Yorke, a yeoman. At that time, a yeoman was a landowner who worked the land, withor without laborers, depending on his wealth. He was a member of what was regarded as the middle class.
Thomas Dudley was born in October of 1576 in Yardley Hastings near Northampton to Captain Roger Dudley and his wife, Susanna, née Thorne. Genealogists and historians still debate Roger's connection to the poet Sir Philip Sidney and to the Sutton-Dudleys of Dudley Castle in Worcestershire, but Thomas seemed sure of the connection. Through his maternal side of the family, Thomas was a descendant of Henry II of England. Thomas was just a boy when his father was killed in battle, fighting for Queen Elizabeth I, and he was an early teen when his mother died. Family friends provided a home for the orphan, who had been left u500 in trust. They made certain that the young man received a good education, and eventually he became a page for a family of nobility in Northampton. Having a position as a page was no small thing then; he was not like a menial servant. Among other tasks, he learned how to oversee an estate.
With Queen Elizabeth I on the throne, the nation rose to a powerful position in the world, and her policies united the country. She said, "Be ye ensured that I will be as good unto you as ever a Queen was to her People," and she meant it. She did not let her people down. The economy flourished. The queen's forty-five-year reign was a golden age of overseas expansion and trade, literature and the arts, and scientific thought. Navigator and historian Sir Walter Raleigh, explorer Sir Francis Drake, philosopher Francis Bacon, mathematician and physicist Sir Isaac Newton, poets Sir Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser, and playwrights William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, and Ben Jonson thrived. Queen Elizabeth reinstated the Church of England (the Anglican Church) as the state religion and confirmed Protestant doctrine with the Act of Supremacy and the Act of Uniformity, but she did not declare war against her Catholic subjects. All of her accomplishments are even more remarkable given the state of the nation she inherited, which was in dire financial straits and suffered religious turmoil between Catholics and Protestants.
Queen Elizabeth I commissioned Thomas Dudley, then age twenty or twenty-one, as a captain to command eighty volunteers from Northampton. They joined the forces of Henry IV of France against Philip II of Spain and participated in the six-month siege of Amiens in 1597. Henry's forces succeeded in regaining the city from the Spaniards. Dudley and his volunteers did not actually fight while in France, but they gained experience as soldiers in the field.
Upon his return from France, Dudley became a clerk for his mother's kinsman Judge Nicholls in Northampton. Nicholls was considered a fair judge and a man of integrity. In addition to learning law from him, Dudley accompanied the judge to London for court-related matters, and there he witnessed some of the best legal minds in the land at work. The lessons in law and justice paid off in Dudley's future in unanticipated ways for him, his family, and his country. He worked for Nicholls until the judge's death.
By 1620, the Dudleys moved north to Sempringham when forty-four-year-old Thomas became the steward of Theophilus Clinton, the fourth Earl of Lincoln. Educated at Cambridge, the nineteen-year-old earl had inherited the family estates, along with substantial debts of about u20,000 that dated back to his grandfather's profligate days. He did not have the skills to oversee the estates by himself, and men who had been hired to help him achieve a sound financial position had failed miserably. Dudley was recommended as a trustworthy man with the business acumen to guide the earl out of his debt. Never one to be deterred by a challenge, Dudley went to work and saw to it that the earl was not only free of debt but also making a substantial profit each year. It was said that the grateful earl did no "business of moment without Mr. Dudley's counsel."
Sempringham proved to be a wonderful place for the Dudley children to grow up. Samuel and Anne welcomed two sisters, Patience and Sarah, before the move, and Mercy joined the family within a year of the move. As the eldest sister, Anne helped her mother with the young ones, and she took that duty seriously. But dozens of servants took care of most tasks in the upper-class surroundings of the earl's home. The children were well acquainted with the earl's family members who lived on the main estate or nearby: the earl's mother, Elizabeth; his wife, Bridget, the Countess of Lincoln, whom he married in 1622; his children; and his siblings Lady Arbella and Lady Susan, among others. (The earl had at least nine brothers and sisters.) Even if the Dudley children were not active participants in the family's entertaining, sometimes with dancing and music, they watched the goings-on. From the nobles they learned fine manners that complemented what they learned from their mother.
For Anne, having access to the earl's library was a delightful part of her years on the estate. Although their father did not neglect the education of any of his children, he took special interest in that of Anne. They shared a love of books that was a typical for a father and a daughter, especially in that era-a favorite was Sir Walter Raleigh's History of the World-and that bond remained strong until the end of each one's life. Anne seemed taken with poetry, especially poems by Guillame de Salluste Du Bartas, a Frenchman. Like most Puritan girls and women, Anne was taught to read so that she could better understand the Scriptures and eventually teach them to her young children before they could read. Not all Puritan females were taught to write, however. Anne learned to do both well, and existing copies of her handwriting show a firm, clear hand.
The English Scriptures influenced both the daily life and the language of the English people. Although it was not the first Bible to be translated into English, the Geneva Bible of 1560, dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I, was the first Bible to number the verses, and it also had helpful marginal notes, which contributed to the Bible's popularity. Shakespeare read it, and the translators of the King James Bible used it as a source. Queen Elizabeth's successor, King James I, commissioned the new version at the behest of a large number of English ministers, and in 1611, the year before Anne's birth, the King James Version appeared. Here is an example of the two versions for Psalm 46:1:
GENEVA BIBLE KING JAMES VERSION
God is our hope and strength, God is our refuge and strength, and help in troubles, a very present help in trouble. ready to be found.
And here is Genesis 3:7:
GENEVA BIBLE KING JAMES VERSION They sewed fig leaves together They sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves breeches. and made themselves aprons.
Anne and her family had both the King James and the Geneva versions, and they used them in discussions of and meditations on Scripture. Thomas and Dorothy Dudley established a pattern of daily prayers for the family, and Thomas read psalms aloud and talked about the sermons they heard at church. Anne clearly was paying attention to what she heard in church from the minister and to the devotions at home led by her father, and she took the lessons to heart, even as a youngster. Years later she wrote that she became aware of her sinful ways at age six or seven. She did her best to avoid lying and disobeying her parents, but she was not always successful. She was troubled when she felt overtaken with such evils, and she could not rest until she confessed all in prayer to God. She was also "troubled at the neglect of Private Duties [meditating and praying in private]," and she felt she was "too often tardy that way." Reading Scriptures, however, comforted her, and the more she understood, the more solace she found in them.
Reared as faithful members of the Church of England, the Dudley family gradually embraced Puritanism. Many Puritans who fled England with the rise of the Catholic Queen Mary had returned when Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne. While in Northampton, Dudley had become fond of certain ministers, and he was leaning toward their Puritan beliefs. At the time of son Samuel's birth, Thomas and Dorothy attended All Saints Church, but in Sempringham they were surrounded by Puritanism. Many "learned and able Puritan ministers, busily engaged in stirring the hearts of people with political and religious principles," lived and preached in the nearby town of Boston (also in Lincolnshire). With their growing influence on him, Dudley became a "zealous asserter" of Puritanism, and Anne felt that influence too.
A brief history lesson on Puritanism is in order here. Perhaps the most concise definition of Puritanism comes from the illustrious and plain-speaking historian Samuel Eliot Morison, who wrote, "Puritanism was a way of life based on the belief that the Bible was the word of God, and the whole word of God. Puritans were the Englishmen who endeavored to live according to that light." The term came to refer to English Protestants who "wished to carry out the Reformation to its logical conclusion, and purge the Anglican Church of forms and ceremonies for which there was no warrant in the Bible." Puritanism had both religious and moral aspects.
King Henry VIII was responsible for making Anglicanism, instead of Catholicism, the state church of England in 1534, and within twenty years, English Puritanism gained a foothold. The Puritans considered Anglican clergy poorly educated and unskilled at preaching. Puritans opposed kneeling at Communion, exchanging rings in marriage, and having a cross in church because all those signs reflected Catholicism. As far as the Puritans were concerned, baptism and Communion were the only two biblical sacraments.
Puritanism did not equal Calvinism, but they shared similar doctrinal points:
Total depravity (humanity's utter corruption since the Fall) Unconditional election (the idea that God had decreed who was damned and who was saved from before the beginning of the world) Limited atonement (the idea that Christ died for the elect only) Irresistible grace (regeneration as entirely a work of God, which cannot be resisted and to which the sinner contributes nothing) Perseverance of the saints (the elect, despite their backsliding and faintness of heart, cannot fall away from grace)
Around 1624, Thomas Dudley left his job as steward for the Earl of Lincoln and moved the family to Boston. There they worshipped at St. Botolph's, where the pastor was John Cotton. St. Botolph's was (and is) a very large, impressive church built from 1309 to 1390. A Puritan leader who looked up to John Calvin, Cotton had attended Emmanuel College at Cambridge University. Emmanuel College has been called a "nursery of Puritanism" because many of the "staunchest" early Puritans attended there or were taught by its graduates. Cotton learned his lessons well, not the least of which was an extensive knowledge of Hebrew, and he was a compelling speaker. His friendship with the Dudley family soon had an important bearing on Anne's future.
The timing is somewhat murky about when Thomas Dudley returned to his job as steward for the Earl of Lincoln. It is certain that in 1626 the earl was imprisoned in the Tower of London for opposing a "loan" demanded by King Charles I, who had succeeded James I in 1625. Charles I was no friend of the Puritans, and the earl was no friend of the king.
The Dudleys were definitely back in Sempringham with the earl by 1628 because Anne was stricken with smallpox that year and she was treated on the estate. Her health from childhood was never robust, and she experienced various serious illnesses throughout her life. Her constant prayer to God was to set her free from her afflictions. As a young child, she had had a fever that confined her to bed for some time, and even then she was given to introspection about her faith. As an adult, Anne recalled the events of that episode and wrote:
My burning flesh in sweat did boil, My aching head did break; From side to side for ease I toil, So faint I could not speak. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . O, heal my Soul, thou know'st I said, Though flesh consume to naught; What though in dust it shall be laid, To glory it shall be brought. Thou heard, thy rod thou did remove, And spared my Body frail. . . . O, Praises to my mighty God, Praise to my Lord, I say, Who hath redeemed my Soul from [the] pit.
A fever accompanied the smallpox that overtook her, and after she recovered, Anne praised God for saving her, although it was apparently a close call. The deadly disease had no cure or means of prevention in the 1600s, and the treatment provided little, if any, relief and probably contributed even more to the sufferer's weakness.
When Anne complained of slight fever accompanied by a headache (or backache), her parents were concerned. But when a rash appeared a few days later and her fever spiked, their concern grew to alarm because they knew that she had smallpox. She was confined to bed, covered with blankets, and placed near a fire. The room was kept dark. Instead of water to drink, she was given hot ale or a mixture of bitter herbs. In addition to having painful skin eruptions that could result in scarring, Anne's internal organs could have been damaged. Severe cases of smallpox resulted in blindness and even death caused by toxemia or hemorrhaging; sometimes secondary infections killed the sufferer. The usual course of the disease was run within two weeks. Of course, the recovery time depended on the individual, and Anne's recovery was prolonged.
No painting exists to show us what Anne looked like, but her face must not have been scarred by the lesions. A relative wrote, "There needs no painting to that comely face, / That in its native beauty hath such grace."
While she was recovering, she had plenty of time to think, and years later Anne wrote that "the Lord laid his hand sore upon me" with the smallpox, and she "confessed [her] Pride and Vanity" to him. She was grateful to the Lord for restoring her, but she believed that she "rendered not to him according to the benefit received."
Anne felt the need to confess more to God. The stirrings began when she was "about fourteen or fifteen," she wrote, and she found her "heart more carnal and sitting loose from God," and "vanity and the follies of youth" taking hold of her. The stirrings most likely had to do with the handsome young man Simon Bradstreet, who was nine years older than she and worked on the Sempringham estate with her father. Whether it was his kindness, his intelligence, or his good looks-or all three-she was smitten with him. And at some point he was taken with her.
Simon came to the estate in 1622 after he had been at Emmanuel College following his father's death; he eventually earned a BA and an MA at that college. Rev. John Cotton knew both the Bradstreet and the Dudley families, and he discussed the young man's future with Thomas Dudley. Glad to have someone to help him and pleased by Simon's upbringing and education, Dudley agreed to train Bradstreet as an assistant steward.
Portraits survive of Bradstreet as an older man, and he has been described as having a "broad, benignant forehead," "clear, dark eyes," and a "firm, well-cut nose." His father was from a wealthy family in Suffolk, and he, too, attended Emmanuel College. When Simon was born, the elder Bradstreet was a Nonconformist minister (meaning he did not conform to the ceremonies of the Church of England) at Horbling in Lincolnshire, and Simon attended grammar school there.
Excerpted from ANNE BRADSTREET by D. B. KELLOGG Copyright © 2010 by Master Sales, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
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