puritan Controversialist; b. Herts, 1535; d. Warwick, Dec. 27, 1603. Thomas, son of a yeoman, studied at Clare and St. John's Colleges, Cambridge (1547–53), where he absorbed Reformation ideas. At Mary's accession he left the university to read law. Between 1558 and 1570, except for two years in Ireland, he held fellowships at St. John's and Trinity Colleges, becoming Lady Margaret Professor in 1569. He used this chair primarily to promote the Puritan cause, to which he had committed himself in the Vestiarian Controversy of 1566. He became identified more closely with nonconformity by actively preaching reform of the constitution and ecclesiastical polity of the Established Church along Presbyterian lines, proposing that the bishops and the crown governing the church be replaced by ministers and elders. Although these views deprived him of his professorship and enforced, over the next 15 years, periodic exile in Geneva, Antwerp, and Middelburg, he remained the most articulate spokesman for the Puritans in the Admonition Controversy against Abp. J. whitgift. Cartwright urged, especially in his three Replies to Whitgift's Answere and Defense of the Aunswere [sic], the restoration of the Established Church to the simplicity of doctrine and practice of Apostolic Christian times; he advocated sweeping Calvinist reforms of religious ceremonies extending to many ceremonies prescribed in the book of common prayer. Contemporaries regarded him as the leading 16th-century Puritan. He authored the Millenary Petition (1603) but died before the Hampton Court Conference.
Bibliography: a. f. s. pearson, Thomas Cartwright and Elizabethan Puritanism, 1535–1603 (Cambridge, Eng. 1925). d. j. mcginn, The Admonition Controversy (New Brunswick, N.J. 1949).C. H. and t. cooper, comps., Athenae canta-brigienses, 3 v. (Cambridge, Eng. 1858–1913) 2: 360–366. j. b. mullinger, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900, 63 v. (London 1885–1900) 3:1135–39.
[m. j. havran]