Philip Nye

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Philip Nye (c. 1595–1672) was a leading English Independent theologian.


He graduated with an M.A. from Magdalen Hall, Oxford in 1622. He spent the years 1633 to 1640 in exile, in Holland.[1]

He was one of the Five Dissenting Brethren in the Westminster Assembly, and a leader of the group alongside Thomas Goodwin.[2] With support from Lord Kimbolton[3] he had influential connections with the Parliamentary Army,[4] and also had the living of Kimbolton, then in Huntingdonshire. He acted as an adviser to Oliver Cromwell on matters around regulation of the Church.[5] According to Ivan Roots, the eventual ecclesiastical settlement under the Protectorate followed closely proposals from 1652, outlined by Nye with John Owen and others.[6]

He later had the parish of Acton. He was employed by Parliament, on a mission to the imprisoned Charles I, and as a trier of preachers. He is mentioned in Hudibras.[7]

On toleration

With Goodwin, he was a co-author of the Apologeticall Narration, pleading for toleration of Calvinist congregations outside a proposed Presbyterian national church.[8] The presented the text to parliament on 3 January 1644. They argued that the congregational churches were closer to the practice of the early Christians and also that they were more suited to the changeability of contemporary times. This tactic meant they could avoid having their views debated at the Westminster Assembly, where they would have been readily outnumbered, and perhaps outvoted.[9] In the Whitehall Debates of 1648, however, he supported Henry Ireton's view that toleration should be limited by the state. He was one of those agitating successfully against the Racovian Catechism.[10]


He was an opponent of astrology.[11]



  1. Concise Dictionary of National Biography
  2. The Westminster Confession of Faith
  3. The future Edward Montagu, 2nd Earl of Manchester.
  4. [1], PDF, p. 6.
  5. G. E. Aylmer, Rebellion or Revolution? (1986), p. 179.
  6. The Great Rebellion (1995 edition), p. 176.
  7. Acton | British History Online
  8. Claire Cross, The Church of England 1646–1660 p. 101, in The Interregnum (1972), edited by G. E. Aylmer.
  9. C.V. Wedgewood (1958), The King's War 1641 – 1647, Collins, p. 285<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. [2], [3]
  11. Christopher Hill, The English Bible and the Seventeenth-Century Revolution (1993), p. 24; Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, p. 436.