Nick Bunker

Puritan Persuasions

The Rainborowes: Pirates, Puritans and a Family’s Quest for the Promised Land


Jonathan Cape 409pp £25 order from our bookshop

Halfway through this tale of piety and plunder in the era of Oliver Cromwell, the reader comes across a telling one-liner from a Puritan divine. It was, wrote Hugh Peter in 1644, a ‘pamphlet-glutted age’. This was rather rich coming from Peter, a bigoted loudmouth who penned scores of tracts of his own, but no historian can disagree. As the Civil War reached its climax, so a torrent of print flowed from the presses on both sides. Few periods in English history have left behind so many sources, so much propaganda and such a welter of conflicting testimony from people with axes to grind.

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