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John Flavel (1627-1691)


John Flavel (1627-1691)

James Dodson

Biographical Sketch

John Flavel was born in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, England, around the year 1627. His father was a notable minister in that town, the time of his birth. He was sent to the University College, Oxford, to continue his graduate studies, after completing grammar school. Soon after commencing his bachelor of arts, the minster of Dipford, Mr. Walplate, sent to Oxford for an assistant, due to his infirmities. Flavel was settled in Dipford, April 27, 1650, by the standing committee of Devon, whereupon he began to serve as a probationer and assistant to the ailing parish minister. He was ordained, at Salisbury, on October 17, 1650, after presenting testimonials and due examination by the presbytery. Soon after, upon the elder minister’s death, he succeeded to Mr. Walplate’s pulpit. In 1656, his painfulness in the exercise of his ministry, brought him to the attention of the congregation of Dartmouth. He was noted amongst the Nonconformists, after the Restoration of Charles II. When the Act of Uniformity was passed, in 1662, Flavel was ejected from the pulpit in Dartmouth. Nevertheless, he continued to preach in private until another piece of legislation, the Five Mile Act, forced him, in the interests of personal safety, to flee from the area. He returned, after the Indulgence of 1671, to his ministry in Dartmouth, continuing to minister there after that liberty was again rescinded. He removed to London for a time, but determining that Dartmouth would be safer, he returned and met with people nightly at his house. In 1687, the penal laws against dissent were relaxed and his people had a meetinghouse built for him. Being of the Presbyterian persuasion, he acted as moderator at a meeting of dissenters just prior to his death, at Topsham. His death was due to a sudden paralysis, at Exeter, June 26, 1691, and he was buried in Dartmouth churchyard.