Seekers

A small seventeenth-century sect of Independents* which was heir to a Quietistic tendency on the Continent first noted by Sebastian Franck* in his Chronica (1531) and embraced by Dirck Coornheert,* a Dutch theologian. The visible church, with its “notions” (i.e., doctrines), organization, and ceremonies, was repudiated, while the true believer waits and “seeks” for the church of apostolic power which God will establish. The English “Seekers” during the Cromwellian period developed these ideas. The word “Seekers” as the name of a sect first appears in Truth's Champion (1617), probably written by John Murton. Seeker ideas had been taught by Bartholomew Legate (c.1575-1612), an English cloth merchant trading with Holland, who was burnt at Smithfield for Arianism.* The Seekers were earnest, peaceable, spiritually minded people, and appear to have had large meetings in N England and in Bristol. From 1652 they were almost entirely absorbed by the Quakers.* Other names for them are “Legatine-Arians” and “Scattered Flock.”