Tuesday, August 2, 2011

BENJAMIN CHILDE 1591-1658

[Ancestral Link: Lura Minnie Parker (Stagge), daughter of Minnie May Elmer (Parker), daughter of Mark Alfred Elmer, son of Hannah Polina Child (Elmer), daughter of Alfred Bosworth Child, son of Mark Anthony Child, son of Increase Child, son of Ephraim Child, son of Ephraim Child, son of Benjamin Child, son of Benjamin Child, son of Benjamin Childe.]

[Ancestral Link: Lura Minnie Parker (Stagge), daughter of Minnie May Elmer (Parker), daughter of Mark Alfred Elmer, son of William Elmer, son of Sarah Peak (Elmer), daughter of Lemuel Peake, son of Mehitable Perrin (Peake), daughter of Mehitable Child (Perrin), daughter of Benjamin Child, son of Benjamin Childe.]



Chapter 5
Reverend Benjamin Childe I - 1592-1634 (43 years old)

Reverend Benjamin Childe I was born on September 1, 1592 in Westminster Parish, Middlesex Shire, England.  Benjamin was the second of six children born to Wolstone and Ellen Empson Childe.  Because Benjamin's older brother Nathaniel and his younger brother Ephraim were both born within a year and a half of him, these three brothers were most likely close to each other and shared similar experiences.  During their childhood, Benjamin and his siblings would have received an excellent education, because they came from the literate Gentry class that lived in the wealthier regions of London.  It is apparent that the Childe siblings all received a Puritan upbringing from their father Wolstone, where they were all baptized and attended church services.  In addition, Benjamin and his brothers would have helped their father Wolstone in his profession as a cordwainer, making boots and all sorts of fine leather goods.

Although Benjamin was raised in a Gentry family of privilege, his upbringing was not without its share of trials and tribulations.  It is evident that Benjamin's childhood was more transient than settled, based on the fact that Wolstone Childe moved around London several times.  By the time that Benjamin was nine years old, he had lived in Westminster for three years, then two years in Stepney, followed by four years in Bishopsgate.  It was around this time period when tragedy struck, where Benjamin was only nine years old when his father Wolstone unexpectedly passed away at the young age of thirty-two.

While the tragic death of Wolstone Childe in 1602 devastated Benjamin and his siblings, they remembered the gospel principles that their father taught them from the Bible, which helped them to put their trust in God during their bereavement.  Benjamin and his siblings eventually moved on with their lives when their mother Ellen Empson Childe married Edward Warren the following year, which resulted in yet another move.  Hence, the Childe family moved to the gentleman's estate of the Warren family in the Aldgate Ward of London, where they attended St. Botolph's Church, which is located on the eastern side of the old Roman fortifications.

St. Botoph's Aldgate of London
where Ellen Empson Childe is buried
For the next several years, Benjamin continued his preparatory education, while assisting Edward Warren in his profession as a saddler.  During this time, Benjamin must have contemplated many times why the Lord would take his father at the young age of thirty-two.  Because Wolstone had taught his children the importance of studying the scriptures, Benjamin turned to the Bible to find answers for these difficult questions.  In his quest for understanding, Benjamin became absorbed in searching the scriptures and his desire to preach the word of God grew.  There is no doubt that the Puritan teachings of Benjamin's father were still prevalent in his life, which influenced him to be proactive in this religious movement.  Consequently, Benjamin made the decision to enter the ministry by obtaining a college education, instead of pursuing a vocation in the Gentry class.

When Benjamin Childe turned sixteen years old, he left the Warren estate in Aldgate and completed two years of formal schooling at the seminary in London, which earned him an Associates degree.  After thoroughly immersing himself in his schoolwork, Benjamin knew for certain that he would honor his father's love and passion for Puritanism by studying at the university that produced the first zealots of this religious movement.  As a result, when Benjamin was almost eighteen years old, he was admitted to Emmanuel College at Cambridge University on May 3, 1610, where he studied with the greatest Puritan minds of his generation.


Trinity College and Town Center of Cambridge University
England

Before the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, the majority of students who entered the ministry acquired their degrees from Oxford University, which was the first institution of higher education established in England.  However, after the Middle Way was offered as a compromise for the Elizabethan Religious Settlement, almost all of the Puritans that opposed Anglicanism attended Cambridge University.  The primary two figures that started this academic trend during the 1560s were Laurence Chaderton and Thomas Cartwright.  Although many of their Puritan prodigies at Cambridge University, including William Perkins, Paul Baynes, and Richard Sibbes, followed in their footsteps at Christ's College and St. John's College as well, there was no specific college at the university that was considered a Puritan foundation until 1584.

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth, one of the  Privy Councilors of her court that secretly supported the Puritan movement was Sir Walter Mildmay, who had obtained a royal license from the monarchy to establish a new college at Cambridge University.  In 1584, Sir Walter Mildmay established Emmanuel College and chose Laurence Chaderton to serve as its first master, based on his zeal and reputation as one of the founding fathers of Puritanism.  Although Chaderton expressed some initial reluctance, he accepted the office after Mildmay made it very clear that he was erecting this Puritan foundation specifically around him.  The character of Laurence Chaderton is evident when Mildmay expressed that "he would rather found no college" if he did not consent.

When Mildmay returned back to the Queen's court in London, his choice of the college's first master revealed his Puritan intentions, thus invoking a concerned response from Queen Elizabeth.  Nonetheless, the monarchy did not move against the new college because it was never a threat in its infancy, where history makes it clear that Queen Elizabeth underestimated the potential of the acorn that Mildmay had planted.  There is no doubt that Queen Elizabeth would have shut down this new college if she could have foreseen its influence on the political events of the 17th century.  Emmanuel College not only became the primary foundation of the Puritan movement in England, but also produced one third of all university graduates that migrated to New England.




Emmanuel College
Established in 1584 by Sir Walter Mildmay


Puritan Leaders of Emmanuel College
associated with Benjamin Childe

The first twenty years of Emmanuel College were generally sloe-moving, based on the fact that new edifices were being constructed, along with little financial support for fellowships and scholarships.  However, when Queen Elizabeth died in 1603, the benefactions for fellows and scholars increased almost tenfold, which consequently gave rise to a thirty-year period where Emmanuel College produced the majority of its Puritan leaders.  After the death of Queen Elizabeth, the Puritans were hopeful that King James I of the new Stuart dynasty would accept their Millenary Petition of reforms, which were presented in 1604 by Laurence Chaderton at the Hampton Court Conference.  Because King James I firmly believed in the Divine Right of Kings, where monarchs were appointed by God and not answerable to men, the only issue that was resolved in this conference was the need for a new translation of the Bible.  As a result, Laurence Chaderton served on the committee of revisers that brought forth the King James Version of the Bible in 1611.
Puritan Conversion of Benjamin Childe
Emmanuel College, Cambridge
The five years that Benjamin Child spent studying for his Master's degree in Theology (1610-1615) is considered by many scholars as the pinnacle of Puritan influence at Emmanuel College.  This five-year "golden age" not only brought together the highest concentration of Puritan ministers at Emmanuel College, but also produced some of the most influential leaders of the Puritan movement during the 17th century.
While the Puritan conversion of Wolstone Childe was influenced from the first generation of leaders, Benjamin Childe's conversion to Puritanism occurred at Emmanuel College from the sermons and teachings of various leaders from both the first and second generations.  The first Puritan influence was clearly Laurence Chaderton, who served as the Master of Emmanuel College while Benjamin studied for his degree.  It is likely that Benjamin attended the advanced courses that Chaderton taught, along with hearing his eloquent sermons at special events.  His charisma as a Puritan minister was so powerful that congregations begged him to keep preaching after hours at the pulpit.  Although Laurence Chaderton was in his late seventies during the golden era, various records reveal that he never lost his fire, where it is remarkable to know that Benjamin Childe was influenced by one of the founding fathers of Puritanism.
The second Puritan inspiration in Benjamin Childe's life was Paul Baynes, who replaced William Perkins as the Rector of St. Andrew's Church at Cambridge University in 1602.  Because this church was attached to Emmanuel College, many of the students flocked to hear Baynes' fiery sermons, which were so radical for their time that he was eventually released from his post by the High Commission Court.  Nonetheless, Baynes still maintained his influence on many students at Emmanuel College, where he was instrumental in the conversion of Richard Sibbes as well.
The third Puritan impetus in Benjamin Childe's life was Richard Sibbes, who served as a Lecturer at Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge from 1610-1615.  During this golden era, many of the students from Emmanuel College assembled to hear the fire and ice sermons of Sibbes, which aroused all of Cambridge.  The eminence of Sibbes' preaching was so renowned that a special gallery was built at the church to accommodate the overflowing number of visitors.  Nonetheless, the Puritan influence of his sermons had become so great that the High Commission Court relieved him of his post in 1615.
The fourth and fifth Puritan influences in the life of Benjamin Childe were John Cotton and Thomas Hooker, who both served as Fellows of Emmanuel College during this golden era.  Because the Fellows were the primary teachers and advisers of the students, Benjamin received the majority of his Puritan training from these two instructors.  Although  Benjamin only overlapped with Cotton for three years, they created a friendship and a familial bond that changed the course of the Childe bloodline forever.  It is evident that Benjamin adhered to Cotton's views on Congregationalism, which were influential in bringing the patrilineal descendants of Wolstone Childe to the New World.  It is interesting to note how both of these Fellows sailed to New England on the ship Griffin in 1633, where John Cotton became known as "the Patriarch of New England," while Thomas Hooker created the "Fundamental Orders of Connecticut."

Puritan Leaders from Cambridge University
who taught Benjamin Childe
During the five years that Benjamin Childe studied for his degree, he refrained from getting married, because Cambridge University was run on semimonstatic lines, meaning that students could not be married and attend school at the same time.  By 1615, Benjamin Childe had completed his coursework at Emmanuel College, where he received his Master's degree from Cambridge University.  It is most likely that Benjamin earned this degree from scholarships offered by Emmanuel College, where the remainder of his support must have been supplemented by his stepfather Edward Warren, who had grown sick while Benjamin was attending college.  Consequently, Benjamin Childe did not immediately enter the ministry after he was awarded his degree, but rather returned to London to take came of his family.

Map of Benjamin Childe's Migration
as a Puritan Student and Minister
In 1616, one year after Benjamin returned home to London, both his mother Ellen Empson Childe and his stepfather Edward Warren passed away.  The plague was on the rampage throughout Europe during this time period and was most likely the cause of their deaths at such a young age.  In the P.C.C. Administration of Edward Warren, Benjamin Childe was named as the executor of the Warren estate, where the guardianship of his daughter's minority was placed into his care.  Thus, by the age of twenty-three, Benjamin had lost both his parents, which consequently placed the responsibility on him to finish raising his sixteen-year old sister Elizabeth Childe and his twelve-year old half sister Abigail Warren.
 
While Benjamin raised his younger sisters, he stayed active in his ecclesiastical duties within the vicinity of London, which ultimately prepared him to become a priest.  After eight years of raising his younger siblings, Benjamin's sisters had finally married, thus freeing him of his family obligations and permitting him to pursue a career in the ministry.  As a result, Benjamin entered the ministry the same way that every other Puritan minister did during this volatile time period, which was admittance through the Anglican Church of England, while hoping that the dioceses and parish where they were serving were Puritan friendly.  Hence, in 1624, an opportunity opened for Benjamin Childe in the western region of England, where he became a priest at the Anglican Church in Bristol.

Anglican Church in Bristol
Where Reverend Benjamin Childe left for Puritanism

In the Ecclesiastical Convocation of A.D. 1563, the Anglican Church passed thirty-nine articles that defined the Elizabethan Religious Settlement of the Middle Way.  When the religious movement of Puritanism became a threat to the Church of England, Parliament passed several laws that required everyone who served in the ministry in England to swear an oath to follow these thirty-nine articles.  when Benjamin Childe entered the ministry in Bristol, the clerical records reveal his oath and signature, which states, "I, Benjamin Childe, subscribe to the sacred ordinances, thirty-nine in all articles in which I vow to live by in becoming a priest.  Witnessed in the presence of Lord Robert Pronia in Bristol, September 19, 1624 agreeing to subscribe -- Benjamin Childe."

Map of Cotesbach Parish in Leicester
where Benjamin Childe Preached

After preaching the word of God in Bristol for several months, it appears that the Puritan inclinations of Benjamin Childe were discovered by the Anglican supporters of the Church of England, where shortly after he was transferred to a parish in a different shire.  It is difficult to determine if the Anglican Church relieved him of his office, or whether Benjamin resigned when a vacancy came open elsewhere.  Nevertheless, the one thing that is certain is the fact that Benjamin Childe accepted a position as a rector in a Puritan friendly parish within a few months after his arrival in the Anglican stronghold of Bristol.  Hence, Benjamin traveled across England once again to become the Rector of Cotesbach Church in Leicestershire, where the records of this parish state, "On February 12th 1625, Benjamin Childe was inducted into the Rectory of Cotesbach."
Map of St. Mary's Church, Cotesbach
where Benjamin Childe preached
The village of Cotesbach is located in the southwest corner of Leicestershire, just a few miles from the borders of Warwickshire and Staffordshire.  It is interesting to note that the parish of Cotesbach is part of the Lutterworth District, which is situated one mile to the south of the village where John Wycliffe started the Lollardy movement that was the precursor of the Protestant Reformation in England.  The village of Lutterworth was not only the place where Wycliffe spent the remainder of his days, but was also the center where the first English translation of the Bible took place.  Hence, Benjamin Childe's transfer to Cotesbach had come full circle in a spiritual sense, as nine generations had passed since his Child ancestors had studied the Bible with John Wycliffe.
 
Although the village of Cotesbach was relatively small, with a population of approximately one hundred people, it was an ideal place for a Puritan minister to spread his reformative beliefs without bringing much attention to himself.  During the subsequent years, Benjamin Childe maintained a low profile as a Puritan rector by preaching various sermons that taught gospel principles from the Bible, while serving the members of his congregation at St. Mary's Church.
After Benjamin Childe preached in Cotesbach for several years, he became acquainted with the daughter of the late Reverend John Shenton, who previously held the position of rector in the nearby parish of Crofts, where the church is named after him.  Around 1628, Benjamin started courting Sarah Shenton while he was in his mid-thirties, which was considered a relatively late start for dating based on life expectancy rates for this time period.  While it is evident that the rules of Cambridge University hindered Benjamin from seeking a wife when he studied for his degree, it is less clear why he never married while living in London.  Perhaps the responsibility of raising his two younger sisters preoccupied his mind during that difficult time in his life.  Nevertheless, Benjamin Childe and Sarah Shenton fell in love and decided to marry, where he was thirty-six years old when he proposed to his young bride, thus making him almost twice her age, as she as only nineteen years old at the time.
St. Mary's of Cotesbach where
Benjamin Childe was married and preached
 
The marriage of Benjamin Childe and Sarah Shenton was held in the small church of St. Mary's where the parish register of Cotesbach records, "On November 28, 1628, were married Benjamin Childe, Rector of Cotesbach and Sarah Shenton."  It must have been a satisfying experience for Benjamin to be married at the church where he preached his Puritan sermons every Sunday, which provided the unique opportunity for his congregation to be involved and witness this event.  Furthermore, it must have been pleasing for them to be married in such a small and humble place, where they could have a simple wedding that excluded the worldly vestments of "pomp and rags" that so many Puritans of their generation detested.  It is possible that Benjamin valued the cozy size of St. Mary's Church at Cotesbach, which is much smaller than most churches in England.  Moreover, the modest church also lacks the many stone monuments that Lords usually erected to honor themselves, which litter the naves of the majority of churches throughout England.  Because the parish of Cotesbach was a simple farming community that has remained constant to this day, nearly all of the members of this congregation would have been humble farmers, where a familial sense of equality must have existed.  Hence, Benjamin Childe was placed in an ideal situation where he could teach his Puritan principles within a community of simple people, who believed that adhering to gospel truths from searching the Holy Scriptures was more important than one's social status and economic situation.

St. Mary's Church where Benjamin Childe was a Rector
1625-1634

Children of Reverend Benjamin I and
Sarah Shenton Childe

The marriage of Benjamin and Sarah was a beautiful match of two bloodlines of strong religious depth, where both sides contained descendants that had not only devoted their lives to preaching the word of God, but had also taken up the spiritual struggle of Puritanism.  Although Sarah's father passed away while she was young, her mother maintained the Puritan fire burning within the Shenton family.

A few days after Benjamin and Sarah were married, they immediately conceived a child.  The fertility of Sarah is not only evident from her young age, but is also apparent from the fact that their first child, Elizabeth, was born nine months and eight days after their wedding date.  Within the next five years, Benjamin and Sarah gave birth to two sons, Benjamin II and Nathaniel.  The records of Cotesbach Parish indicate that all three children of Benjamin Childe were baptized by him at St. Mary's Church.  In addition, Benjamin and Sarah raised their children in the Rector's Manor what was owned by St. Mary's Church of Cotesbach Parish.

Rector's Manor of Cotesbach where
Benjamin Childe's Family Resided
It is most likely that Benjamin and Sarah Shenton Childe would have had more than three children, if it were not for the dreaded diseases that were killing thousands of people in England during the early part of the 17th century.  The most common of these diseases was the plague, which wiped out families and villages by the thousands.  It is probable that the tragic death of Benjamin Childe resulted from carrying out his duties as a priest, where he would have visited those dying of the plague in order to pronounce their last rights.  Hence, Benjamin's selfless sacrifice that he rendered to God, where he served his fellow beings during a virulent period, ultimately cost him his life.

Benjamin Childe Burial
St. Mary's Burial Grounds, Cotesbach Parish
Benjamin's last will and testament was registered in the Cotesbach Parish records six days before his death, which states that he "grew sick" from the plague.  As a result, Benjamin Childe passed on from this life on the cold autumn day of November 5, 1634.  His body was laid to rest in the Cotesbach Burial Grounds of St. Mary's Church, which was fitting as he served as the rector of this parish for almost a decade.  However, because his death occurred more than three hundred and seventy years ago, there is no tombstone or material marker that has survived to this day, because the majority of monuments from this time period have eroded or been destroyed over the years.  It is interesting to note that the minister who replaced Benjamin Childe at Cotesbach was Samuel Cotton, an ardent Puritan from the family of John Cotton, who was Benjamin's mentor and advisor at Emmanuel College.
Rectors of St. Mary's Church of Cotesbach Parish
Leicester, England
 
The tragic death of Benjamin at the age of forty-two left his wife Sarah with three children to care for, all under the age of five.  It must have been very difficult for her to raise three children as a single mother without the help of her husband.  The records of Leicestershire reveal that in 1641, Sarah Childe was still considered a widow because she had yet to remarry.  Although Sarah remained a widow for almost thirteen years, she was still able to earn a living and provide for her three children.  After Benjamin passed away, Sarah opened a bakery, where she sold homemade bread and pastries to the inhabitants of Cotesbach and the surrounding region.  However, by 1647, Sarah had found a gentleman from another religious home of Puritan rectors, where she married John Bradshawe of Darcy Lever in Lancaster.

In conclusion, Reverend Benjamin Childe I is revered as one of the greatest Childe ancestors that have ever lived, based on his desire to seek for truth and righteousness, which resulted in his willingness to follow in the sacrificial footsteps of his Savior.  While the early years of Benjamin's life were marked by tragedy after his father unexpectedly passed away, the greatness of this Childe is evident because he turned to the scriptures for answers, rather than allowing this trial to harden his heart and lose trust in God.  The fact that Benjamin Childe made the decision to be a Puritan minister after this tragic event speaks volumes about his level of exceeding great faith, especially in light of the opposition that was brewing against his religious movement.  There is no doubt that Benjamin was one of the most educated of all the Childe ancestors, as he studied with the greatest Puritan minds of his generation.  It is no coincidence that Benjamin Child was permitted to study at the first Puritan establishment in England and to take part in the "golden age" of Puritan teaching at Emmanuel College, where he obtained a graduate degree from Cambridge University.  It is apparent that Benjamin was a devout family man, based on his sacrifice and commitment to raise the children of his deceased parents.  It is heartbreaking that Benjamin's humble life as a pastor was cut short by the plague, which had once again claimed the life of a Childe ancestor.  Fortunately, Benjamin was able to have children so that his name and seed would remain upon this earth.  It is obvious that our Heavenly Father was mindful of this factor, and once Benjamin had accomplished the work that he was sent to do, he was able to return back into His presence.  Although this tribulation was difficult for Benjamin's surviving family to bear, it was definitely necessary and served a higher purpose, which will later be shown to have altered the course of his bloodline.  For without the untimely death of Benjamin, the migration of the Child family to America most likely would not have taken place.  Hence, Benjamin not only gave his life to God by serving his fellow beings, but also inadvertently laid it down in order that his descendants could find religious freedom in America.
Pages 181-197
"The Ancestry of Alfred Bosworth Child" Mark B. Child, Ph.D./Paul L. Child, D.D.S., 2008 printed by Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

Ancestor to Samuel Morse
Ancestor to Samuel Morse, inventor of telegraph
found on ancestry.com

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