Family of Love - Wikipedia

English Dissenters web site with an extensive bibliography.


There are two books about the family of love. The more recent is Christopher Marsh's The Family of Love in English society, 1550-1630, CUP, 1993.

Slightly older is Alastair Hamilton's The Family of Love, James Clarke & Co, Cambridge, 1981.

There is also an article by Marsh 'The gravestone of Thomas Lawrence revisited (or the Family of Love and the local community in Balsham, 1560-1630)' pp208-34 in Margaret Spufford's The world of rural dissenters, 1520-1725, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.












Family of Love


The Family of Love is a strange sect, apparently based on the beliefs of one Hendrik Niclaes. What little is known about him is that he was born about 1501, probably near Emden, today in Germany on the north side of the river Ems (see map below). The national borders that we know today did not exist at that time, Germany was a collection of small states each ruled by its own duke or prince. Such overall control as did exist was probably in the hands of the Holy Roman Emperor.


The belief spread to England and established a few pockets, documented in Marsh's book (see left). One of these pockets was in Balsham and descendants of Elizabeth Rule were members.

On two separate occasions members of the family were called up before their 'superiors'. The first was in 1574 when they were quizzed by Andrew Perne, the parson of Balsham, the second in 1580, when they were before the bishop.

All the men whose names are in the first document appear also in the second: so it would seem that in spite of putting their names to a document in which they promised 'to be good boys', they carried on as before.

I have put some background notes on the family of love on a separate page.