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Event – English Reformation lecture

November 2018 | by Judith Webster

Dr Lesley Rowe, Associate Fellow in History at the University of Warwick, gave the third and final lecture in her series on the Reformation in England at Little Hill Church in Wigston, Leicester, on 17 September 2018.

The lecture focused on Anthony Gilby, one of the most influential Leicestershire reformers, who was known as a detester of ‘popery’ (Roman Catholicism) and a preacher of the gospel, and who was exiled for some years in the reign of the Catholic Queen Mary I. Dr Rowe spoke on Gilby’s early life, exile, his work upon returning to England, and his important contribution to the English Reformation.

Anthony Gilby was born in 1510 and grew up in the tumultuous years of Henry VIII’s reign. As a young man, he studied the biblical languages at Cambridge University and understood Hebrew, Greek and Latin. In Edward VI’s time, he used these skills to refute Catholic practices such as the Mass and wrote commentaries on both Micah and Malachi.

Gilby also spent time in Leicestershire as a preacher, but went into exile in Frankfurt in 1554. In October 1555, the same month the Leicestershire reformer Hugh Latimer was martyred, Gilby and his family moved to Geneva. Whilst there, Gilby helped produce the 1560 Geneva Bible, an English translation of the original Hebrew manuscripts.

The aim of this translation was to be as accurate and honest as possible, containing detailed marginal notes to help explain the meaning of passages.  The Geneva Bible was first published in England in 1576 and was influential for at least 50 years, as well as making a major contribution to the language of the King James Bible in 1611.

Gilby was named ‘fierce, fiery, and furious’ by a 17th century historian but Dr. Rowe preferred to call him ‘fervent, faithful and forthright’, setting an example for Christians today.

This series of lectures and biographies has highlighted the importance of standing firm on biblical truth, even in the face of opposition, and how fortunate England is to be a country where the Bible in our language can be read by anyone who wishes to.

The lectures have been enjoyed so much that Little Hill Church has asked Dr Rowe to continue her series. Historical lectures on the English Reformation will continue, God willing, next year, beginning with a lecture on the much-persecuted Puritan minister Arthur Hildersham on 25 February 2019.

Dr. Rowe has published a biography of Arthur Hildersham, and an edition of his 1625 Fast sermons. A volume of works on the Lord’s Supper by Hildersham and William Bradshaw, which she has edited and introduced, is due out. Dr. Rowe’s three lectures are available online at:

Judith Webster


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