Stephen Nye

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Stephen Nye (1648–1719) was an English clergyman, known as a theological writer and for his Unitarian views.


Son of John Nye, he graduated B.A. at Magdalene College, Cambridge in 1665.[1] He became rector of Little Hormead, Hertfordshire in 1679. Thomas Firmin was a close associate.[2]


  • A brief history of the Unitarians, called also Socinians: in four letters, written to a friend (published anonymously at London in 1687, expanded 1691).
  • A letter of resolution concerning the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation, London, 1691.
  • Considerations on the explications of the doctrine of the Trinity by Dr. Wallis, Dr. Sherlock, Dr. S-th, Dr. Cudworth, and Mr. Hooker [electronic resource] : as also on the account given by those that say the Trinity is an unconceivable and inexplicable mystery / written to a person of quality, London, 1693.

Although the term “Unitarian” was already known in England from the Latin Library of the Polish Brethren called Unitarians published in Amsterdam (1665-1668), and had been used in print before by Henry Hedworth (1673), Nye's book gave the term wider currency in English among antitrinitarian believers, and set off the Unitarian controversy.[3] Nye distinguished Unitarian views from those of Arius (Arian views) and Fausto Sozzini (Socinian views).[4] He called William Sherlock a tritheist, Robert South a Socinian, and John Wallis a Sabellian.[5] He faced much opposition from orthodox Anglicans, but had an ally in William Freke.[6] Thomas Tenison, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1695, discouraged those who wanted to continue the debate.[7]

Nye wrote also on natural religion; he corresponded with Henry Hedworth and published some of those letters.[8]


  1. "Nye, Stephen (NY661S)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Concise Dictionary of National Biography.
  3. John Marshall, John Locke: Resistance, Religion and Responsibility (1994), p. 389.
  4. M. A. Stewart, English Philosophy in the Age of Locke (2000), p. 113.
  5. Ernest Gordon Rupp, Religion in England, 1688-1791 (1986), p. 248.
  6. T. Koetsier, L. Bergmans, Mathematics and the Divine: A Historical Study (2005), p. 450.
  7. John Marshall, John Locke: Resistance, Religion and Responsibility (1994), p. 418.
  8. Andrew Pyle (editor), Dictionary of Seventeenth Century British Philosophers (2000), article on Nye, pp. 615-6.

External links