Charles Herle

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Charles Herle (1598–1659) was a prominent English theologian, of moderate Presbyterian views.

He graduated from Exeter College, Oxford with an M.A. in 1618. He was vicar of Winwick, Lancashire, from 1626.[1]

In a controversy with Henry Ferne, a Royalist, he insisted, against divine right theory, that a monarch's sovereignty was mediated by the people, rather than coming directly from God.[2] It has been suggested that this work marks the beginning of a transition from theories of mixed government to the doctrine of separation of powers.[3] His 1643 work on The independency on scriptures of the independency of churches provoked reaction from New England,[4] and controversy with Samuel Rutherford.

Parliament appointed him Prolocutor of the Westminster Assembly on 22 July 1646, after the death of William Twisse.[5][6] The Westminster Confession of Faith of 1646 was drawn up by Herle with others,[7][8] drafting being assigned at one point to a small group of Herle, Edward Reynolds and Matthew Newcomen.


  • A payre of compasses for church and state (1642)[9]
  • The independency on scriptures of the independency of churches (1643)[10]
  • Ahab's fall by his prophets flatteries (1644)[11]
  • A Fuller Answer to a Treatise written by Dr. Ferne (1642)[12][13]


  1. Concise Dictionary of National Biography
  2. Parliamentarian Theory
  3. PDF, p. 26, online version of Vile, Constitutionalism and the Separation of Powers (1967).
  4. Mather and William Tompson, Modest and Brotherly Answer to Mr. Charles Herle his Book, against the Independency of Churches.
  5. Introduction to Samuel Rutherford's The Due Right of Presbyteries (1644): Part II
  6. 'House of Lords Journal Volume 8: 22 July 1646', in Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 8, 1645-1647 (London, 1767-1830), pp. 437-442. British History Online accessed 30 May 2016
  7. In 1645, Thomas Gataker, Thomas Temple, Joshua Hoyle, Cornelius Burgess, Herle, Edward Reynolds and Robert Harris were nominated.[1]
  8. Signatories with Herle were Cornelius Burges, Assessor; Herbert Palmer, Assessor; Henry Robroughe, Scriba; Adoniram Byfield, Scriba. s:Westminster Confession of Faith. For the making of the Confession, see [2]. Herle was involved throughout.
  9. A payre of compasses for chvrch and state delivered in a sermon preached at St. Margarets in Westminster before the honorable House of Commons, at their monethly fast November the last, 1642 []
  10. The independency on scriptures of the independency of churches wherein the question of independency of church-government is temperately first stated, secondly argued, thirdly cleerd from the objections, and fourthly appeald in to the judgements of such as stand for it []
  11. Ahab's fall by his prophets flatteries being the substance of three sermons, upon 1. King 22, 22 ... : the first sermon preached before the honourable the Commons House of Parliament : the second before the honourable the Lord Major of London, with the Aldermen his brethren : the third at the Abbey Church in Westminster, where it was much acquarrelled by some, and as much desired to be published by others : the which is here the rather done, because laying open the grounds of all our present miseries, specially in these two words his prophets, it may well serve to supply what is wanting in the following answer to D. Fern's second reply to the last answer of him whom the printer stild' the fuller answerer of the doctors first treatise called the resolving of conscience upon this question : whether upon this supposition The King will not defend, but is bent to subvert religion, laws and liberties, subjects may take up arms. []
  12. A fvller answer to a treatise vvritten by Doctor Ferne, entituled The resolving of conscience upon this question whether upon this supposition or case, the King will not defend but is bent to subvert religion, lawes and liberties, subjects may, with good conscience, make resistance : vvherein the originall frame, and fundamentalls of this government of England together with those two texts of Scripture are sufficiently cleered []
  13. PDF, online text, from p. 223.

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