Thomas Hooker

Thomas Hooker (1586–1647) was a prominent Puritan colonial leader, who founded the colony of Connecticut after dissenting with Puritan leaders in Massachusetts. He was known as an outstanding speaker and a leader of universal Christian suffrage.

Called today “the Father of Connecticut,” Thomas Hooker was a towering figure in the early development of colonial New England. He was one of the great preachers of his time, an erudite writer on Christian subjects, the first minister of Cambridge, Massachusetts, one of the first settlers and founders of both the city of Hartford and the state of Connecticut, and cited by many as the inspiration for the “Fundamental Orders of Connecticut,” cited by some as the world’s first written democratic constitution that established a representative government.

Most likely coming out of the county of Leicestershire, in the East Midlands region, the Hooker family was prominent at least as far back as the reign of Henry VIII. There is known to have been a great Hooker family in Devon, well-known throughout Southern England. The Devon branch produced the great theologian and clergyman, the Rev. Richard Hooker.

Thomas Hooker was likely born at Marefield or Birstall, Leicestershire, and went to school at Market Bosworth. He received his Bachelors of Arts from Emmanuel College, Cambridge in 1608, continuing there to earn his Masters of Arts in 1611. He stayed at Emmanuel as a fellow for a few years. After his stay at Emmanuel, Hooker preached at the Esher parish, where he earned a reputation as an excellent speaker.

Around 1626, Hooker became a lecturer at the Chelmsford Cathedral. However, in 1629 Archbishop William Laud suppressed church lecturers, and Hooker was forced to retire to Little Baddow. His leadership of Puritan sympathizers brought him a summons to the Court of High Commission. Forfeiting his bond, Hooker fled to Rotterdam, Holland, and from there immigrated to Massachusetts Bay Colony aboard the Griffin.

Hooker arrived in Boston and settled in Newtown (later renamed Cambridge), where he became the pastor of the First Parish Church. His parish became known as “Mr. Hooker’s Company”.

Voting in Massachusetts was limited to freemen, individuals who had been formally admitted to their church after a detailed interrogation of their religious views and experiences. Hooker disagreed with this limitation of suffrage, putting him at odds with the influential pastor John Cotton. Owing to his conflict with Cotton and discontented with the suppression of Puritansuffrage and at odds with the colony leadership, Hooker and the Rev. Samuel Stone led a group of about 100 who, in 1636, founded the settlement of Hartford, named for Stone’s place of birth: Hertford, in England.

This led to the founding of the Connecticut Colony. Hooker became more active in politics in Connecticut. The General Court representing Wethersfield, Windsor, and Hartford met at the end of May 1638 to frame a written constitution in order to establish a government for the commonwealth. Hooker preached the opening sermon at First Church of Hartford on May 31, declaring that “the foundation of authority is laid in the free consent of the people.”

On January 14, 1639, freemen from these three settlements ratified the “Fundamental Orders of Connecticut” in what John Fiske called “the first written constitution known to history that created a government. It marked the beginnings of American democracy, of which Thomas Hooker deserves more than any other man to be called the father. The government of the United States today is in lineal descent more nearly related to that of Connecticut than to that of any of the other thirteen colonies.”

In recognition of this, on the wall of the narrow alleyway just outside the grounds near the Chelmsford Cathedral in Chelmsford, Essex, England, where he was town lecturer and curate, there is a Hooker Memorial Civic Plaque fixed high on the wall of the narrow alleyway, opposite the south porch, that reads: “Thomas Hooker, 1586 – 1647, Curate at St. Mary’s Church and Chelmsford Town Lecturer 1626-29. Founder of the State of Connecticut, Father of American Democracy.”

Thomas Hooker died during an “epidemical sickness” in 1647, at the age of 61. [More via Wikipedia][Iain Murray’s five part Banner of Truth series can be found here.]

The Works of Thomas Hooker

The Application of Redemption by the Effectual Work of the Word, and Spirit of Christ, for the Bringing Home of Lost Sinners to God. (702 pages)
[epub mobi txt web via EEBO]
The text is in rough shape.  If you have some time and would like to help cleaning this up, let me know!

A Brief Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer. (91 pages)
[pdf web via Google Books]
Matthew 6:9-13.

The Christian’s Two Chief Lessons: Self-Denial and Self-Trial. (224 pages)
[pdf via Digital Puritan]
Containing the following:

  1. Heautonaparnumenos, or A Treatise of Self-Denial (Matthew 16:24) – pdf, 100 pp.
  2. A Treatise of Self-Trial (2 Corinthians 13:5) – pdf, 84 pp.
  3. The Privilege of Adoption and Trial Thereof by Regeneration (John 1:12-13) – pdf, 19 pp.

A Comment Upon Christ’s Last Prayer in the Seventeenth of John. (460 pages)
John 17:20-26. {Can you help me find this?}

The Covenant of Grace Opened. (88 pages)
Genesis 17:23. {Can you help me find this?}

The Danger of Desertion. (19 pages)
{Can you help me find this?}
Jeremiah 14:9. The farewell sermon of Thomas Hooker.

The Faithful Covenanter. (46 pages)
{Can you help me find this?}
A sermon preached at Dedham lecture in Essex, on Deuteronomy 29:24-25.

Four Learned and Godly Treatises. (298 pages)
{Can you help me find this?}
Containing the following:

  1. The Carnal Hypocrite (2 Timothy 3:5).
  2. The Churches’ Deliverances (Judges 10:13).
  3. The Deceitfulness of Sin (Psalm 119:29).
  4. Heavy Afflictions Breed Earnest Prayers from the Wicked (Proverbs 1:28-29).

The Immortality of Man’s Soul Proved Both by Scripture and Reason. (48 pages)
{Can you help me find this?}

The Pattern of Perfection Exhibited in God’s Image on Adam, and God’s Covenant Made with Him. (398 pages)
{Can you help me find this?}
Containing:

  1. The Pattern of Perfection Exhibited in God’s Image on Adam, and God’s Covenant Made with Him (Genesis 1:26).
  2. The Prayer of Faith (James 1:6).
  3. A Preparative to the Lord’s Supper.
  4. The Character of a Sound Christian, in Seventeen Marks.

The Poor Doubting Christian Drawn to Christ. (159 pages)
[pdf epub web via Google Books]

The Saint’s Dignity and Duty. (266 pages)
{Can you help me find this?}
Containing seven sermons:

  1. The Gift of Gifts (or, The End Why Christ Gave Himself, Titus 2:14).
  2. The Blessed Inhabitant (or, The Benefit of Christ’s Being in Believers, Romans 8:10).
  3. Grace Magnified (or, The Privileges of Those That are Under Grace, Romans 6:14).
  4. Wisdom’s Attendants (or, The Voice of Christ to Be Obeyed, Proverbs 8:32).
  5. The Activity of Faith (or, Abraham’s Imitators, Romans 4:12).
  6. Culpable Ignorance (or, The Danger of Ignorance Under Means, Isaiah 27:11).
  7. Willful Hardness (or, The Means of Grace Abused, Proverbs 29:1).

The Saint’s Guide in Three Treatises. (182 pages)
{Can you help me find this?}
Containing:

  1. The Merror of Mercy (Genesis 6:13).
  2. The Carnal Man’s Condition (Romans 1:18).
  3. The Plantation of the Righteous (Psalm 1:3).

The Soul’s Exaltation. (351 pages)
[pdf epub mobi txt web via Internet Archive]
A treatise containing:

  1. The Soul’s Union with Christ (1 Corinthians 6:17) – pdf, 53 pp.
  2. The Soul’s Benefit from Union with Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30) – pdf, 75 pp.
  3. The Soul’s Justification (2 Corinthians 5:21) – pdf, 181 pp.
  4. The Soul’s Ingrafting into Christ (Malachi 3:1) – pdf, 30 pp.

An Exposition of the Principles of Religion. (62 pages)
{Can you help me find this?}

The Soul’s Humiliation. (252 pages)
{Can you help me find this?}
Luke 15:14-18.

The Soul’s Implantation. (290 pages)
{Can you help me find this?}
Containing:

  1. The Broken Heart (Isaiah 57:15).
  2. The Preparing of the Heart to Receive Christ (Luke 1:17).
  3. The Soul’s Ingrafting into Christ (Malachi 3:1).
    Available above as part of The Soul’s Exaltation.
  4. Spiritual Love and Joy (Galatians 5:22).

The Soul’s Possession of Christ: Showing How a Christian Should Put on Christ, and Be Able to Do All Things Through His Strength. (248 pages)
{Can you help me find this?}
Romans 13:4. Also includes the sermon “Spiritual Munition”, a funeral sermon for Mr. Wilmott on 2 Kings 2:12.

The Soul’s Preparation for Christ. (258 pages)
[pdf web via Google Books][epub mobi txt web via EEBO]
Acts 2:37. Subtitled “A Treatise of Contrition, Wherein is discovered How God breaks the Heart, and Wounds the Soul, in the Conversion of a Sinner to Himself”.

The Soul’s Vocation or Effectual Calling to Christ. (668 pages)
{Can you help me find this?}
John 6:45.

A Survey of the Sum of Church Discipline. (480 pages)
[pdf epub mobi txt web via Internet Archive]
A series of treatises on church polity (government).

Three Godly Sermons. (144 pages)
{Can you help me find this?}
Containing:

  1. The Wrath of God Against Sinners (Romans 1:18).
  2. The Striving of the Lord with Sinners (Genesis 6:3).
    or, A Godly and Profitable Sermon of God’s Eternity and Man’s Humanity.
  3. The Plantation of the Righteous (Psalm 1:3).

The Unbeliever’s Preparing for Christ. (342 pages)
{Can you help me find this?}
A series of sermons:

  1. A sermon on Revelation 22:17.
  2. A sermon on 1 Corinthians 2:14.
  3. A sermon on Ezekiel 11:19.
  4. A sermon on Luke 19:42.
  5. A sermon on Matthew 20:3-6.
  6. Preparing for Christ (John 6:44).

Want to discuss something pertaining to Thomas Hooker? Leave a public comment below (subject to moderation), or send a private message to the webmaster.

3 thoughts on “Thomas Hooker

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *