TheaurauJohn : A Name, Not The Thing

There is a name and a thing, and a thing, And a name, And a name, And not the thing, And the Name and the thing both in accordance to the thing and name.

from The Nations Right in Magna Charta discussed with the thing Called Parliament. [Dec 1650]

Seal of TheaurauJohn Thomas Tany

I have come to set all things out of joynt

Thomas Tany, (also known as Theauraujohn Tani, John Tany, Thomas Totni, Theaurau-John Tanniour, John Tawney, John Tanny, Theaura John, Theauro John, Tom Tottey, …), a London goldsmith, is known to have had 15 works published between 1650 and 1655, varying from single sheet broadsides to works of up to 100 pages.

On the 23rd of November, 1649, after several weeks of fasting and prayer, Thomas Totney entered into a trance and the Voice of God spoke to him. It was revealed to him that he was the High-Priest of the Jews and that his task was to ensure the safe return of all Jews to Israel. At this same time he was also given the name TheaurauJohn Tany. His mission was publicly declared in April of 1650 with the publication of I PROCLAIME From the Lord of HOSTS, printed by Charles Sumptner for Giles Calvert, and sold at the Black-spread-Eagle at the West-end of [St] Paules, London, which he signed, 'THEAURAUJOHN TANY Gold-smith'.

Tany states, in Theauraujohn his Aurora in Translagorum in Salem Gloria or, The discussive of the Law and the Gospell betwixt the Jew and the Gentile in Salem Resurrectionem (1651), "…though I was unlearned, all languages under heaven I had given me in seven days space. … when I write I have no knowledge, neither behind nor before, but the word that comes…" The publication of this work saw him, (and Captain Robert Norwood, member of the High Court of Justice, who wrote the preface), charged with Blasphemy and subsequently convicted and sentenced to 6 months in Newgate gaol.

Before this sentencing was carried out, Tany published Theous Ori Apolipikal or, God's Light Declared in Mysteries (1651), in the final pages of which is found My ANSWER Added to the CHARGE against ME, where Tany refutes each of the charges brought against him. "Through the great Calumny of aspersion laid upon me, I am forced to publish to the world what I have declared…"

1 They charge me with A dissoluteness in living, and breaking all humane society
…I desire you to search my life in actions thorowly, and I shall prove unto you a Looking-glass, whereby you may discern your own spots and foulness, and wilful failings…
2 The second Charge is, That I deny Gospel-Ordinances
To which I Answer, That I do not nor cannot… your Gospel lies in your head by parrat-learning … not in your hearts, writ by the finger of God; for if it were, persecution would cease, and acts of mercy would flow, and deceit vanish …
3 The third was, That I said, That the Bible was a riddle
…is it not a riddle, a mystery, a Microcosm to the world; nay to you? … But ye cry the name of the Gospel high, but you are a Gospel to your self-ends, for the truth in the Gospel is doing deeds of mercy, and not in disputing names of dead letters…
4 The fourth is, that I should say That there is no such thing as Hell, as your Ministers hold forth
…Hell is a separation from enjoyment…
9 That I said the New-Testament is a lye
…and I say, It is but a name of dead letters set together with much intervention: and more, many places translated to hold up the Pope and Clergecies supremacie, and burdening the people to their tyranny…
12 They say that I said, that God was not forever
Which I protest I have never spoken … Now I say before all men, you my accusers are blasphemers, and I am not; but rage not, I can pass it by…

Tany served his prison sentence in full, and was released in February 1652, returning to Eltham.

March 1652 saw the publication of Tany's THEAVRAUIOHN High Priest to the IEVVES, HIS Disputive Challenge to the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and the whole Hirach. of Roms Clargical Priests, ("I am in prison at the writing hereof"), in which he sets a day, "the fifth day of April 1652", and a place, "Saint Pauls, that old called Church, but now the new made Stable", where he will give a "demonstration of the glorious clothing wherewith my God hath clothed me", challenging "the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, as also the dessembling, deceived, and deceiving Clergie," and "the whole Hirarchie of Rome … And if you dare not appear to despute, then know, I take your silence to consent to my affirmation … then know ye, that you are Liars, Cheaters, and Deceivers, and dare not come to the Light." A margin note declares, "If the States, or men, or man, would hear of me, I live at Eltham but at M. Giles Calvert at the Black spred-Eagle, at the West end of Saint Pauls church there you may be directed to my lodging, for know all people that I turn my face from no man upon Earth."

When the day came he found the door locked and that none of the invited were there to meet him. In THEAVRAUIOHN HIS EPITAH And EVROPS Looking-glass, (April 1652), he writes, "Now all people, wheras I wrote an Epistle in which I challenged the lying Clergy of England, upon the 5 of April in Pauls Church, offering a fair dispute unto them, at which place, I was in the morning, and put up my bill signifying to appear at three of the clock that day, in the meantime the seduced spirits had obtained strength and power, to shut the doors and keep the people out, so when I came the doors was shut…"

In May, 1654, now residing in a tent pitched in Eltham, Tany published the broadside, Hear O Earth, wherein is said, "The Heavens have given Fire to lighten the Cabbafl in man; and a voice from that Enlightenedment shall be declared from the Lords Tent, standing in the bounds of Eltham, called by name, The middle Park … And in the Lords Tent is the Creation vivificated, in colour, manner, and matter, and to be viewed by any one, until the end of the days of Dedication."

Later that same year, in December, Tany, now living in Lambeth, created a bonfire outside his tent; on this fire, in front of a crowd of people that had gathered, he burnt a sword, a saddle, a pair of pistols, and the Bible, declaring them to be the four great Idols of England. He then, with his accomplice, Rowle Tichburne, made his way by boat to the House of Commons, dressed in old armour and equipped with a rusty sword, declaring that he was going to murder those present in the House.

He entered the lobby of the House and asked the door-keeper whether he might deliver a petition. The door-keeper informed him that this may be possible if any Member of the House would give his endorsement. Tany then retired for an hour, after which he returned, with Rowle Tichburne, both armed with swords, and paced up and down in the Lobby for fifteen minutes. He then suddenly charged at the door-keeper, who, along with almost all of those present in the lobby, ran from the room. Major Christopher Ennis remained in the lobby and a scuffle between Tany and Ennis ensued, ending in Tany forcing his way into the Chamber. Inevitably, this resulted in Tany being imprisoned in the Gate-House.

The event was recorded in broadsides of the day:

The Faithful Scout, No. 208, 29 December – 5 January, 1654/5 reported…

Saturday Dec. 29

This day a hair brained Gentleman, one Theaurau John Tanior, who calls himself the High-priest of the Jewes, and useth sometimes to live in Tents, which he erects at Lambeth and Greenwich, saying He is to gather the dispierced Jews, and carry them to the Holy-Land, came in an antique habit, with a long rusty sword by his side to the Lobby at the Parl house door, where he suddenly fell a slashing of the people, and with his sword drawn ran at Cooper the Door-keeper, and put him, and the rest of to the Run, cleering the Room of all persons, except Major Ennis, who closed in with him, and struck up his heels; yet he recovered himself again, and ran with his sword drawn, and bounced with his foot at the house door, and turned the key with his hand, and opened the door; Then Maj. Ennis fell into him again, and disarmed him. Whereupon he was sent for in, and coming to the bar he stood covered; but the Sergeant was commanded to take off his hat; He was there asked divers questions, to which he answered notably; and being afterwards examined by a Committee, he declared, That he came inspired by the Holy Spirit, to kill every man that sat in the house, and was resolved thereupon. And after some time spent in examination, he was committed to the Gate-house, in order to his further Tryal. But note, that even before he came from Lambeth, to act this Assassination at Westminster, with great solemnity he burnt a sword, a geat saddle, a pair of pistols, and the Bible together, declaring them the three grand Idols of England. This is the fruit of the phrensie, called Quakerism.

Certain Passages of Every Dayes Intelligence, No. 74, 20 December – 5 January, 1654/5 reported…

Tuesday January 4

John Tawney, alis Theoreau John (of whom mention is made before) was examined before a Committee, since his commitment to the Gatehouse, and divers Witnesses concerning his carriage examined, and it appeared that he cut & slasht with a rusty sword in the Lobby, but he did not much hurt.

2. That when he was called to the Bar of the House, he stood with his hat on til the Serjeant took it off.

3. That when he came in this manner to the House door, he said that he was inspired by the Holy Ghost to kill every man that sat in the House.

4. That he had formerly been committed to Newgate for Blasphemy.

5. That last week at Lambeth with great solemnity he openly burnt the Bible, a great saddle, and a pair of pistols together, and openly declared that they were the three grand Idols of England.

6. He professeth himselfe to be no Schollar, yet have set forth several things in print, wherein he takes on him the most accurate knowledge of Hebrew, and saith it came to him by Revelation, in one of his Quaking trances.

7. He saith that his Office is to gather the dispersed Jews (sprung out of the Gentiles) in England, and that there be more like unto himselfe designed for other places.

Some of which were more slanderous than others:

Mercurius Fumigosus, No. 32, 3-10 January, 1655 reported…

A Plott, A Plott, old Nick is dead,

John Tawney did him kill,

With rusty sword he hack'd his head,

but sore against his will.

Theorau John, one of the inspired Cyclops of Vulcans Forge, being a mad Transylvanian, that had the Hebrew reveal'd to him in a Quaking fitt

He drew, and put it up again, like a great Booby

A two-legg'd beast, called a Slutt, last week having her leaven devoured by the Rats, and fearing her Mistris would be angry with her, surreverence dropt a little into her Kneading-trough of her own making, which made her bread so sowre and crabbed, that no Milk-woman dares passe by their door without having all their milk turned into Chees-curds, no knife that cutts this bread, but is sent the next Day to the Grinders, no edge can be set thereon ever after; the women are afraid to lie with their Husbands for fear of begetting Children with Crab-tree Faces: the Maide that committed this Piece of Huswifery is next week to be Circumcised by Black Madge of the Beare-garden, and so be gathered into Theoreau Johns flock of Converted Jews, and to be Cook Russian to the Pharisees, as they are conducted by John Robbins through the Red Sea, to the Iland in the Moon, to recollect their scences, which were lost a fort-after Midsummer come Twelve Month.

Whilst imprisoned at the Gatehouse Tany has a large lock and chain attached to his leg as a metephor for the captivity of the people of England. He was released on bail in February 1655, following a petition to the upper bench protesting wrongful imprisonment, habeas corpus.

In April 1655 Tany published THARAM TANIAH, Leader of the Lords Hosts, Unto his brethren the QUAKERS, scornfully so called… a broadside, aimed at his followers, instructing them that Tany's mission, to deliver the captive Jews to Jerusalem, is still very much in his plans, and declaring, These things the Heathen dogs know not.

In August Tany published My EDICT Royal, his last extant work, wherein he gives his account of the burning of the three Idols of England and what transcended at the House of Commons. "…Now I shall declare unto the whole earth the cause both of my burning and breaking my Sword, Pistols, and Musket, and the spoiling of the Barrel of Powder, as also the burning of the Bible termed the Word of GOD by ignorants, not knowing GOD. … Therefore all People, Tongues and Nations, Know, That I did not burn the BIBLE in contempt of GOD, or in contempt of its Record from GOD … I say, the Word of GOD cannot be burned, for it's GOD's righteousness in my Soul planted, and unto Men by my life declared in these Words, Sell all that you have, and give unto the poor, and follow me. … Thus saith GOD, the dogs and toads are that you count the basest in the Creation, is cleaner than all men and women under heaven; for they act only for life, an dye for your abominable lusts…

"…Three days before I came down to the House, the name I know not by reason of its Catastrophe, ing, ing, ing, thus my body fainted, and my spirit in me retained scare strength to move my frame, & then my teeth beat in my head as the fiercest ague that ever fell on man, my knees smote together, my hands quaked, and my water fell from me, for the presense of God was terrible unto me; then came the word of Jehovah, and said unto me, go down and slay the rebels against me, and make sharp thy sword, for they have broken the Covenants. … Then the Lord commanded to burn his Tent onely save the Tent staff, and burn the priests garments, with all that I had; whereupon I began to burn many things, and my own books, for all books do but image the life of some thing from the life expressing the true thing, and are dead idols when you come to dy, what good can all the written books in the whole world do you, they are but dead letters…

"…now when I had done burning, the people did rage so, that I was fain to go to boat with my sword drawn, and one Rowle Tichburn with me, and I borrowed an old sword for him to have in his hand, but he knew nothing at all, onely my safety from the people that did stone us in the boat, and I cannot go without a gard by reason of the heathen rage …

"…and I came into the Loby, and spake to Master Hull, that he would help me deliver [my petition], but I must give it to a Member, and I said I know no men their … Then I went … and had two mess of broth and two pots of Ale for Tichburn and my self, and then I was commanded by Jehovah, for to go, and comming to the door, the door-keeper of the Loby pressed me betwixt the door and the wall, whereupon I came in the sliped of my cloak, and drew my sword, and ran at him so hard, that the people came within a foot of the hand, and would not enter, then I swange my sword round about to have killed all that was nigh me; then I run to the door and struck it with my foot, and then they gat hold of me, and threw me down and took away my sword…

"Now all people see your liberty by my president amongst wicked men your lord rulers, by their own unjust laws: they sent for me to examine me before a Committee, and some friends were at prison, and went along with me, but because of their wickedness, they are fearful of every winde, and according to their wills, establish for our English laws; no man must hear me examined, but one or two pressed in. The first queries were frivolus, as where I lived, and had I not been at Rome, and my clothes did trouble them, and they asked who gave me money for my clothes, I answered by their asking that question they were free from charity, for they were to clothe the naked and feed the hungry. Then they did ask why were my sleeves so laced, I said it was the Glob in the four Spheres holdment, and I told them that they were no wiser than before…

"The next and last was this, I did beseech and consider that a man of peace, a man that had forsaken all, that God should raise him up to testifie with the hazard of his life, God's fierce wrath kindled against them, to cut them off quite from the earth. Then one answered and said, I fought with Colonel Rich; then I said, Gentlemen I beseech you all to hear me in this matter, then they heard me attentively, then I said, that when Colonel Rich and Captain French that villiain, with the rest of the theeves came to divide their theevish purchases, the Parks, in which they had cheated the poor souldiers, by buying their debentures for a song in comparison of their due right, for Gentlemen, I said, thus, if I set a man to work till it comes unto twenty shillings, and then give him ten groats, I count them cheating theeves and villains. What do you think of this?? At this word they were mute, and asked me what I was, and if I loved the Quakers, and I said that they were honest men, if they were but what they said, but for to speak good words, and under them good pretences wrong and spoil others, them my soul did abhor and loath…"

In September 1655, Tany was involved in a dispute over land rights in St George's Fields, where he had pitched his tent, which involved assaults on himself and his belongings. He reputedly issued a broadside, Take Notice All People, warning people off the "ground I hyre", which was published verbatim within an article in Mercurius Fumigosis, No. 70, 11 September – 3 October, 1655.

There were no further publications by Tany after this point in time. It is believed that he made himself a boat and set sail for Holland, continuing his mission of gathering the dispersed Jews, only to be shipwrecked on the journey and drown.

The meaning of the name

"…Now minde, The, is from the Greek word Theos; now The stands before in my name given by God, which is to say the eye, or Gods eye; discovering the light, in the hidden mysterious mystery of John." (Epistle VII, Theous Ori Apolipikal or, God's Light Declared in Mysteries, 1651). "…the import of my name, which is thus, Theauraujohn, that is, God his declarer in the morning, the peaceful tidings of good things. … Scholars, you know Theus, then Aurau, you know them two names, and John is the beloved Dove…" (Epistle 12, Wrote at Eltham, but the intendant of the delivery of this Epistle was at Saint Pauls Church, Theous Ori Apolipikal, Part Two, 1653).

What I have written, I have written

Further reading:

TheaurauJohn Speaks! The Collected Work Of Thomas Tany

Edited by Jarett Kobek. Resurrectionary Press, Providence, RI., 2003

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