Henry Barrow

d.1593. Church reformer. Graduate of Cambridge (1570) and member of Gray's Inn (1576), he was converted from a riotous and dissolute life through the chance hearing of a “loud-voiced preacher . . . and made the leap from a vain and libertine youth to preciseness in the highest degree” (Bacon). Giving himself to the study of the Bible, he became friends with John Greenwood,* with whom he shared a great respect for the works of Robert Browne.* He was detained in 1586 on orders of Archbishop Whitgift* while visiting the imprisoned Greenwood, tried in 1590 for circulating seditious books, and three years later was sentenced and hanged. His works, including A True Description of the Visible Congregation of the Saints (1589) and A Brief Discovery of the False Church (1590) were printed, as were most of his other works, including an account of his trials and investigations smuggled from prison, by his friends in Holland. He is sometimes claimed as the father of modern Congregationalism, but authorities differ as to his precise beliefs, and he himself vigorously disavowed the title of a mere “sectary.”