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Stephen Marshall (1594-1655)


Stephen Marshall (1594-1655)

James Dodson

Biographical Sketch

Stephen Marshall was born in Godmanchester, in Huntingdonshire, England, in 1594. He was educated in Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Afterward, he became minister at Wethersfield, in Essex, and, finally, minister at Finchingfield, also in Essex. During his ministry at Finchingfield, he was silenced for non-conformity, which placed him under a suspension form preaching for some time. Although he was greatly despised by the conforming party, he was a favorite of the Long Parliament. Upon approach of trouble, in 1640, Mr. Marshall was among those preachers, who, in their conventicles, did openly proclaim that “for the cause of religion it was lawful for the subjects to take up arms against their lawful sovereign.” His concern was for the securing of the constitution and he was not carried away later by the supporters of Oliver Cromwell. In 1643, he was chosen to be seated as a member of the Westminster Assembly where he was regarded as a very active and valuable member. He was very involved with several of the debates of the time, especially those concerning the government of the church. Mr. Marshall has been called the great bell-wether of the Presbyterians, giving satisfactory evidence of his adherence to those principles which he confessed upon his death bed. He died in November of 1655 and was interred in Westminster Abbey, but his remains were dug up at the Restoration. From his time seated as a member of the Westminster Assembly, many sermons have been printed. He took part in authoring Smectymnuus (1641), a volume devoted to defending Presbyterianism. His largest work was a volume entitled, A Defence of Infant Baptism (1646), which he dedicated to the divines then seated at Westminster.