Last year I read the Christian Focus reprint of John Brown’s (1830-1922) The English Puritans: The Rise and Fall of the Puritan Movement (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1910). It was originally written at the end of the nineteenth century and comes from a strongly Congregationalist perspective as Brown was one of the leading Congregationalists of his day. The Monergism website has recently made available the CUP edition here. While this is definitely a worthy read – and I recommend anyone studying the Puritans to give it a gander – I do have certain reservations about some of his views. For instance, I don’t agree with his understanding of the limits of Puritanism. He sees Puritan beginnings in 1558 with the ascendency of Elizabeth I to the throne of England and its ending in 1658 with the death of Oliver Cromwell. While I can agree generally with his first date, I would place the latter quite a bit later. I agree with J.I. Packer who places the closing of the Puritan period with the death of John Howe in 1705. As well, as I noted, I believe his Congregationalist concerns colour his writing as well as some of his political views – which I have sympathies with on both fronts!
That said, give Brown a read – although I would also suggest reading more contemporary works like those of Packer, John Spurr, Geoffrey Nuttall, Peter Lake, John Coffey and others of that ilk.