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Burghall, Edwardlocked

(bap. 1600, d. 1665)
  • C. B. Phillips

Burghall, Edward (bap. 1600, d. 1665), clergyman and ejected minister, and schoolmaster, was baptized on 9 December 1600 at Beeston township in the parish of Bunbury, Cheshire, one of seven known children of Hugh Burghall (d. 1632) of Beeston, in Bunbury, a yeoman of an established local family, and his wife, Margaret. No certain details of his education are known, but by 1622 he was usher at the free grammar school at Bunbury. He married Joan Mason (d. 1668) in 1623; they had at least seven children, and lived in the township of Alpraham. Bunbury's noted puritan preacher and scholar William Hinde (d. 1629) no doubt influenced the young teacher. Burghall's headmaster, William Cole, died in 1632, and Burghall was certainly headmaster by 1637. That salary of £20 a year, plus a house and some land, no doubt insulated him from an obscure family quarrel over his father's estate. Burghall accepted a call in May 1644 to preach at Haslington chapelry in the parish of Barthomley, Cheshire, at £34 'paid' (Memorials, 126). He was appointed vicar of Acton, Cheshire, in 1646, with an augmentation by the committee for plundered ministers. Another schoolmaster was at Bunbury by 1648, but Burghall may not have moved from Alpraham immediately, as a child was baptized from there in 1645.

Burghall is best known because he 'left a MS. called Providence improved; being remarks taken from his Diary' (Palmer, 1.325). Any diary is lost, and the known text of 'Providence improved' is a copy made in 1778. It is well printed in J. Hall's edition of Memorials of the Civil War (1889) but earlier editions are inaccurate. 'Providence improved', a retrospective personal chronology from 1628 to 1663, has a place in the puritan autobiographical canon faintly paralleling, for example, the opening chapters of Richard Baxter's text. Burghall traces the evolution of godly puritanism and politics under Charles I into presbyterianism in the civil war, and then into the division, innovations such as Quakers, and uncertainty of the 1650s. Burghall felt betrayed by the outcome of the Restoration and deplored the 'severe' Act of Uniformity (Memorials, 235). 'Providence improved' ends with the illness of Queen Catherine in 1663, a judgment of a disapproving God. In that common puritan genre, God's judgment of the central government, and of sin, illustrated from Bunbury parish register, is displayed. Accusations in Hall that Burghall's text for 1643–8 plagiarized Thomas Malbon's Nantwich-based annals of the civil war miss the point: Burghall was reviewing the events of his godly career, not writing an account of the war years.

'Providence improved' is reticent about Burghall's support for parliament at the start of the civil war, which may be significant given the early strength of neutralism in Cheshire. Although in June 1643 royalists tried to capture him, he did not refer to them as the enemy until August. He was plundered by royalists and driven from his house in the spring of 1644. Burghall signed the Cheshire attestation to the solemn league and covenant in 1648, did not engage, and took tithes, suggesting that he was presbyterian. In the 1650s his dinners with one of the important Cheshire magistrates probably indicate clerical influence in secular government. There are two extant sermons by Burghall, who was a well-regarded preacher: The Perfect Way to Die in Peace (1659), and The Great Benefit of Christian Education (1663). The latter was apparently given at the dedication of Acton grammar school in 1662. That year, having refused to conform, he was ejected from the vicarage of Acton, and returned to Alpraham.

Ejection brought loss of income and loss of the personal prominence enjoyed by Burghall in the 1650s. However, the excluded minister felt able to nominate two local gentry as supervisors of his will—his and his wife's probate inventories, and the 1664 hearth tax return, do not suggest, as Calamy does, that he was ejected into poverty. Burghall died at Alpraham on 8 December 1665 and was buried at Bunbury on 11 December.


  • T. Malbon and E. Burghall, Memorials of the civil war in Cheshire and the adjacent counties, ed. J. Hall, Lancashire and Cheshire RS, 19 (1889)
  • Burghall's diary, copied in 1778, BL, Add. MS 5851, 105
  • parish register, Bunbury, 1580–1676, Ches. & Chester ALSS [microfilm]
  • probate records, Ches. & Chester ALSS, W/Supra [index by year of probate, OS: Edward Burghall of Alpraham, clerk, 1665; Joan Burghall of Alpraham, widow, 1669; Hugh Burghall of Beeston, yeoman, 1632; Thomas Burghall of Bunbury, gent, 1647; Margaret Burghall of Beeston, widow, 1676; William Palin of Alpraham, yeoman, 1674; Thomas Mason of Haughton, 1647]
  • J. S. Morrill, Cheshire, 1630–1660: county government and society during the English revolution (1974), 241, 270
  • The nonconformist's memorial … originally written by … Edmund Calamy, ed. S. Palmer [3rd edn], 1 (1802), 324–5
  • lay subsidy returns, hearth tax returns, TNA: PRO, E. 179/86/145, for 1664
  • Bunbury easter book for 1590, Ches. & Chester ALSS, Crewe of Crewe MSS, DCR, 27/3
  • parish register, Acton, –1666, Ches. & Chester ALSS [microfilm]
  • R. C. Richardson, Puritanism in north-west England: a regional study of the diocese of Chester to 1642 (1972)


  • BL, diary, Add. MS 5851, 105 [copied 1778]

Wealth at Death

£79 1s. 11d.—personal estate: probate records, W/Supra: Edward Burghall of Alpraham, clerk, 1665, Ches. & Chester ALSS

at least two, and possibly three, tenements, incl. one leasehold: will, 1 Sept 1664

National Archives of the United Kingdom, Public Record Office, London
D. Wing & others, eds., , 3 vols. (1945–51); 2nd edn (1972–88); rev. and enl., ed. J. J. Morrison, C. W. Nelson, & M. Seccombe, 4 vols. (1994–8) [see also STC, 1475–1640]
Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies Service
, 63 vols. (1885–1900), suppl., 3 vols. (1901); repr. in 22 vols. (1908–9); 10 further suppls. (1912–96); (1993)