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Thomas Case

Thomas Case (1598-1682) was born at Boxley, Kent where his father, George Case, was vicar. He seems to have been converted at a very young age. He obtained his BA (1620) and MA (1623) at Christ Church, Oxford, before being ordained in the diocese of Norwich in 1626.

His first charge was as a curate in Northrepps, Norfolk, and in 1629 he moved to Epringham, in the same county, as rector. While there he married Ann Pots, who died after just a few years without bearing children. His faithful preaching, catechizing and godly example bore much fruit. He experienced considerable opposition from Bishop Wren, but proceedings against him came to nothing.

After a brief time as minister of the collegiate church in Manchester – during which he married Ann Mosley, from an influential Puritan family, in 1637 – Case was recommended by the House of Commons as lecturer of St Martin’s-in-the-Fields in London in 1641. He was to preach there on Sunday afternoons and Thursday evenings for the next twenty years, and in several other London churches, interrupted by a short rectorship in Stockport, Cheshire.

As rector of St. Mary Magdalen Church, Milk Street, he originated the famous ‘Morning Exercises’ during the Civil War to cope with the number of prayer requests from church members for those serving in the army. These continued after the war and were eventually moved to Cripplegate.

Case served in the Westminster Assembly as a stout advocate for Presbyterianism. In 1651 he spent five months in the Tower of London for preaching against the proceedings of Parliament and because of his perceived association with Christopher Love, who was executed for his contact with the exiled Stuart court. After his release, Case became lecturer at St Giles in the Fields, succeeding to the rectorship in 1654. Ejected for nonconformity in 1662, he continued to preach in London as opportunity arose, and died at the age of 84 in 1682.

Case’s best-known works are his A Treatise of Afflictions (published by the Trust as When Christians Suffer, in the Pocket Puritans series) and Mount Pisgah, reprinted in recent years as A Prospect of Heaven.

[The author image is from a painting of Case by Gustavus Ellinthorpe Sintzenich, by kind permission of Mansfield College, Oxford.]