The Anabaptist. believed that candidates for baptism should be able to make a confession of faith at the same time and as such rejected the accepted method of baptising infants. This was a hot topic in the 1640s and long tracts were written about it putting both sides of the argument. Both the candidate and the baptising minister are stripped to their underclothes, this being one of the only images from the period of a man wearing (under) drawers.
To cleanse that guilt which is a Leopard staine:
‘Tis but a fain’d conceit, contended for,
Since water can but act its outward matter:
Regenerate, new-born; these babes indeed
of watry Elements have little need.
Familists were a mysterious sect founded in the 16th century by Henry Nicholls (HN in the rhyme) and believed that things were ruled by nature, not directly by God as the popular opinion of the times would have it. They also rejected infant baptism and the movement appealed to the cognoscenti; artists, musicians and intellectuals. This chap is looking rather superior in a tall hat and coat.
Were all things Gospell that H.N. hath said,
A strange confused worke were newly laid:
A perfect state, like Adams, is pretended,
Whilst out wardly each day God is offended:
No Sabboth, but alike all daies shall be,
If Familists may have their Liberty.
Seekers were probably the forerunners of Quakers. They rejected the organised church system, preferring to wait for God’s revelation. Our seeker is wearing a tabbed doublet rather than a coat and is proffering his hat in a respectful way.
All Ordinances, Church and Ministry,
The Seeker that hath lost his beaten way,
Denies: for miracles he now doth waite,
Thus glorious truths reveal’d are out of date:
Is it not just such men should alwaies doubt
Of clearest truths, in Holy Writ held out.
The Divorcer. Not another sect, but someone who didn’t believe in the sanctity of marriage. The law allowed divorce in certain circumstances but this guy is obviously taking the law into his own hands. Mr and Mrs are wearing nice tall hats, the wife also in a smart petticoat and kerchief whilst the husband has a coat and plain falling band. I trust the staff is no bigger than his thumb!
To warrant this great Law of Separation,
And make one two, requires high aggravation:
Adultry onely cuts the Marriage-knot,
Without the which Gods Law allowes it not.
Then learn to seperate from sin that’s common,
And man shall have more Comfort from a woman.