William Chillingworth

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Chillingworth, William (1602–44). Theological controversialist. Born in Oxford, he was educated at Trinity College, where he became fellow. The Jesuits persuaded him, though Laud's godson, to join the Roman church, but a brief spell of study in Douai (1630–1) caused him to leave catholic certainties for Falkland's liberal group at Great Tew. Here he wrote his main work The Religion of Protestants, a Safe Way of Salvation (1637), supporting the right of free enquiry and denying any church monopoly of the truth. Taking Anglican orders (1638), he became chancellor of Salisbury (1638), but in the Civil War, while serving as a royalist army chaplain, he was captured at Arundel. Already in poor health, he died at Chichester. Ahead of his time, his rationalism and toleration, suspected by Romanists and puritans alike, were to be valued in later years.

Revd Dr William M. Marshall

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