Cartwright, Thomas, a learned and eminent Puritan divine; born in Herts about 1535. He was educated at St. John's College, Cambridge, where he became a fellow in 1560. A few years afterward he was removed to a fellowship at Trinity College, of which he became one of the senior fellows. In 1564, when Queen Elizabeth visited the University, he appears to have distinguished himself in the disputations held before her majesty. He took his B.D. degree in 1567, and three years afterward was chosen Lady Margaret's divinity professor. He was a thorough Protestant. In his lectures he criticized the polity of the Church of England with great acuteness and learning. It was his conviction that the reformation of the Church had not gone far enough; and he advocated his views with a clearness and boldness which none could mistake. The following statement of the doctrines for which he was expelled from the University in given by Hook, in vindication of the severity with which Cartwright mas treated. It will be seen that, with a few exceptions, they are views in which most moderate men in the Church of England would now agree with other Christians. "He maintained that, in reforming the Church, it was necessary to reduce all things to the apostolical institution; that no one ought to be admitted into the Christian ministry who was unable to preach; that those only who ministered the word ought to pray publicly in the Church, or administer the sacraments; that popish ordinations were not valid; that only canonical Scripture ought to be read publicly in the Church; that the public liturgy ought to be so framed that there might be no private praying or reading in the Church, but that all the people should attend to the prayers of the minister; that the service of burying the dead did not belong any more to the ministerial office than to the rest of the Church; that equal reverence was due to all canonical Scripture, and to all the names of God: there was, therefore, no reason why the people should stand at the reading of the Gospel, or bow at the name of Jesus; that it was as lawful to sit at the Lord's table as to kneel or stand; that the Lord's Supper ought not to be administered in private, nor baptism administered by women or laymen; that the sign of the cross in baptism was superstitious; that it was reasonable and proper that the parent should offer his own child to baptism, making confession of that faith in which he intended to educate it, without being obliged to answer in the child's name, 'I will,' 'I will not,' 'I believe,' etc., nor ought women or persons under age to be sponsors; that, in giving names to children, it was convenient to avoid paganism, as well as the names and offices of Christ and angels; that it was papistical to forbid marriages at any particular time of the year, and to grant licenses at those times was intolerable; that private marriages, or such as were not published in the congregation, were highly inconvenient," etc.
Archbishop Grindal and Dr. Whitgift zealously opposed Cartwright, and in 1571 he was deprived of his professorship and fellowship. He retired from England to the Continent, became chaplain at Antwerp, and afterward at Middleburg. At the end of about two years he returned to England, and published a Second Admonition to the Parliament, with a petition for relief from the subscription required by the ecclesiastical commissioners. He had a controversy of pamphlets with Whitgift, and was greatly persecuted by that prelate, and was twice imprisoned. In 1585 he obtained from the earl of Leicester the mastership of the new hospital at Warwick. In 1592 he was liberated from his second imprisonment, and returned to the mastership of the hospital at Warwick, where he died, Dec. 27, 1603 (or 1602, according to Isaac Walton). Cartwright was a man of great parts. Beza wrote of him: "I think the sun does not see a more learned man." Froude, in his History of England (1866, vol. 4), gives an elaborate panegyric of Cartwright. Among his writings are, Commentaria Practica in totam Historiam Evangelicam (1630, 4to; and by L. Elzevir, at Amsterdam, 1647; Eng. version, 1650): — Comnmentarii in Proverbia Salamonis (Amsterdam, 1638, 4to): — Metaphrasis et Homilice in Librum Ecclesiastes (ibid. 1647, etc.): — A Body of Divinity (London, 1616, 4to): — Directory for Church Government (1644, 4to): — Confutation of the Rhemish Testament (1618, fol.). His exegetical writings are still of value. Dr. Alexander (in Kitto's Cyclopoedia, s.v.) says that Hengstenberg, in his work on Ecclesiastes, borrows largely from Cartwright's Metaphrasis. See Strype, Life of Whitqift; Hook, Eccl. Bigraphy, 3:479; Neal, History of the Paritans, 1:172; 2:48, et al.; 3:404; Walton's Lives; Middleton, Evang. Biography, 2:326.