Laurence Clarkson

Laurence Clarkson

Laurence Clarkson

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Laurence Clarkson (1615–1667), sometimes called Claxton, was an English theologian and accused heretic. He was the most outspoken and notorious of the loose collection of radical Protestants known as the Ranters.

Clarkson's ideas are set out in a 1650 tract sponsored by the wealthy Leveller military man, William Rainborowe, called A Single Eye. Clarkson opposed the idea of sin, considering it to be "invented by the ruling class to keep the poor in order."Hill, Christopher, Milton and the English Revolution (New York:Penguin, 1979), 313.Clarkson, A Single Eye, 14. Quoted in McGregor, J. F. et al., Response to Davis's "Fear, Myth and Furore: Reappraising the 'Ranters'" (Past and Present, No. 140. , 155-194), 156. The only commandment he felt worthwhile was "Thou shalt not kill"; most of the others he confessed to having broken, and even adultery was acceptable under certain circumstances.Hill, Milton, 315. In fact, Clarkson was known in the period for his sexual promiscuity, for which he was...
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