Lodowicke Muggleton (1609–1698) was an English religious thinker, who gave his name to Muggletonianism, a Protestant sect which was always small, but survived until the death of its last follower in 1979. He spent his working life as a journeyman tailor in the City of London and was imprisoned twice for his beliefs. He held opinions hostile to all forms of philosophical reason, and had received only a basic education. He encouraged quietism and free-thought amongst his followers whose beliefs were predestinarian in a manner that was distinct from Calvinism. Near the close of his long life, Muggleton wrote his spiritual autobiography which was published posthumously.
His father, John, was a farrier and a post office contractor. Lodowicke was the youngest of three children when his mother, Mary, died in 1612. On his father's remarriage, Lodowicke was put out to nurse in the country, the common practice in such family restructuring at the time. In 1624 he returned to Walnut Tree Yard as an apprentice to a tailor, John Quick. Quick seems to have been well-connected, making ceremonial gowns for Liverymen and Common Councilmen. Muggleton describes him as "a quiet peaceable man, not cruel to servants, which liked me very well". In 1625 Muggleton contracted the plague but, he says, "it was not extreme tedious to me. I recovered quickly, and hath not had half a day's sickness since."
As his apprenticeship drew to a close he began to disdain tailoring as poorly paid. He was offered a stake in a pawnbroker's business by a Mrs Richardson if he would marry her daughter which he seemed keen to do. But he became worried that usury would damn his soul so he remained unmarried, working as a tailor for William Reeve who was John Reeve's elder brother and, at that time, a staunch Puritan. Yet his soul was still troubled "for fear God had made me a reprobate before I was born, because He did not answer my prayers."
His first marriage, 1635, was to Sarah and they had two surviving daughters, Sarah and Elizabeth. After his wife's death he married again but both wife and the children that she bore soon died. Muggleton fell away from the Puritan faith, "for all the zeal we formerly had was quite worn out," and this cost his business dearly in terms of lost customers from that congregation.
It may be possible to recognise some subsequent Muggletonian beliefs as being solutions to the perplexities he felt whilst still a Puritan. Then again, the episodes he chooses to tell in his autobiography may be selected with such a didactic purpose in mind. The idea that conscience is God's watchman within every person, that the conflict between two natures is at work within everyone, and the need to banish the fear of being prey to external spirits all seem to stem from personal exigencies of this period in his life.
"It came to pass in the year 1650, I heard of several prophets and prophetess that were about the streets and declared the Day of the Lord, and many other wonderful things." Notable were John Robins and Thomas Tany (Muggleton calls him John Tannye). Muggleton says of Robins that he regarded himself as God come to judge the quick and the dead and, as such, had resurrected and redeemed Cain and Judas Iscariot as well as resurrecting Jeremiah and many of the Old Testament prophets. "I have had nine or ten of them at my house at a time," reports Muggleton, nonchalantly. The prophets claimed power to damn any that opposed them. Robins displayed considerable talents as a magus; presenting the appearance of angels, burning shining lights, half-moons and stars in chambers, thick darkness with his head in a flame of fire and his person riding on the wings of the wind. Understandably, such experiences left a lasting impression on Muggleton. "I do not speak this from hearsay of others," says Muggleton in his autobiography, "but from a perfect knowledge which I have seen and heard." Yet he asserts he was never an active follower of either man. "Yet was I quiet and still and heard what was said and done and spake against nothing."