Wolstone Childe - 1569-1602 (33 years old)
Childe Descendant of the Gentry Class of England
While the first three chapters of this book consist of an abridged summary of the essential elements that brought the royal bloodline of the Childe family into England, many volumes could be written about the particulars of each Childe generation. As a result, the remaining nine chapters focus on the micro events of each succeeding generation from Wolstone Childe to Alfred B. Child. The reason that the individual histories commence with the life of Wolstone Childe is not based on the fact that better records were kept after the Middle Ages, but rather resulted from his religious decision to search for truth and righteousness for his family. There is no doubt that the spiritual convictions that Wolstone Childe held, during a dark and ominous time of uncertainty, changed the course of his royal bloodline forever.
It is evident that Wolstone Childe's religious fervor and zeal was passed down to his children based on the exemplary lives that they lived, where his patrilineal grandsons brought his surname and bloodline to the New World during the 17th century. There is no doubt that Wolstone Childe played a pivotal role in opening the door for his descendants to embrace the restored gospel just a few centuries later, thus making him one of the greatest Childe kindred to walk the earth. Although Wolstone Child lived during the latter part of the 16th century, the significance of his story starts long before his birth, when considering his ancestors a few centuries back.
When Wolstone Childe's sixth great grandfather John was presiding as one of the Childe esquires of Northwick Park during the late 14th century, his younger brother Lawrence entered the ministry and eventually became a bishop. While Lawrence Childe acquired his Master's degree in Theology at Oxford University, he studied under John Wycliffe, who had a great impact on his life. By 1365, Lawrence Childe had become a colleague of John Wycliffe, where they both became "scholars at Oxford." This connection must have impacted the Childe family based on the fact that many historians today refer to John Wycliffe as the "Morning Star of Reformation." Before this time period, the Catholic Church maintained such control over Medieval Europe that there were almost no religious movements to oppose that authority.
|John Wycliffe as the Precursory Leader of the Protestant Reformation|
|Left: Wycliffe Bible |
Right: Exhumation-burning of Wycliffe's Bones
Although Lollardism was considered heretical religious movement, it was initially protected under the reign of King Richard II from 1377-1399 because Lollards had many sympathizers and cohorts among the king's courtiers. However, when King Henry IV came to power in 1399, many petitions were raised to move against the Lollards. By 1401, the Monarchy passed a statute officially referred to as "de heretico comburendo" which forbade the production and owning of Bibles in the English language. Because the Roman Catholic Church lacked the temporal authority in England to prosecute heretics, the law was designed to transfer them to the secular power of the king, who had the power and authority to burn heretics alive at the stake.
The 1401 Statute was the first time in England's history where the law permitted authorities to use capital punishment for matters of opinion and belief. It is evident that the Roman Catholic Church in England made it practically impossible to proclaim gospel truths from the scriptures, due to fears of being persecuted and burned alive. However, there were those such as William Sawtrey, who could not deny scriptural truths by stating, "Instead of adorning the cross on which Christ suffered, I adore Christ who suffered on it." William Sawtrey's scriptural stance on Catholic idolatry eventually cost him his life, as he became the first martyr of the English Reformation when they burned him alive in 1401.
|Left: John Badby in 1410|
Right: Sir John Oldcastle in 1417
In the subsequent thirteen years, many Lollards were arrested and scrutinized by the Archbishop of England, where those that did not publicly recant their opinions were burned at the stake, including John Badby of Evesham (near Northwick Park). By 1414, Sir John Oldcastle (Baron of Cobham) led many knights, esquires, and gentlemen to London in a Lollardy rebellion that was immediately suppressed. He was eventually burned alive at the stake as well. Because this open rebellion of the Gentry class stemmed from the Lollard followers of John Wycliffe, the Roman Catholic Church held a council in 1415 where he was declared a "stiff-necked heretic." The council decreed that all of Wycliffe's writings should be burned and that his skeletal remains be exhumed in order to burn them and pour his ashes into the River Swift.
|Map of Underground Lollardy Movement in Amersham: |
From this point on, it was evident that Lollardism would not survive in public, but rather could only continue as an underground religious movement. Because Lollardism lacked centralized leadership and organization, the movement was fragmented, which made it difficult to track and eradicate. This meant that Lollards were forced to meet in private settings, where its reformative principles were usually discussed and handed down in familial settings. As a result, many Lollard supporters fled to the Chiltern Hills between 1431-1521, where they established an underground grass-roots movement that relied heavily upon the trust and secrecy of personal contact. Although leadership was decentralized, the Lollards made the town of Amersham their underground base of operations, which is where the Childe family came into contact with them.
|Left: Amersham Monument|
Right: St. Mary's Church in Amersham
When Thomas Childe migrated from Northwick Park to Amersham in 1490, the Roman Catholic Church had identified this town as a Lollard hot spot, based on the trials and burnings that took place between 1462-1466. Although the Lollards of Amersham had to take extra precautions, further investigations took place between 1506-1511, where several supporters were burned alive in the surrounding villages as well. There is no doubt that these state-sponsored executions must have had a deep impact on the Childe family in Amersham, due to their religious interactions with the Lollards. The network of the Lollard Gentry in Amersham was so extensive that some neighbors who became informants for the monarchy were deprived of their lands. Nonetheless, the Roman Catholic Church was persistent in their Lollard investigations, as the most severe trials were carried out between 1520-1522. As a result, many Lollards were burned at the stake for maintaining their belief that it was their "right to read and interpret the Holy Scriptures and to worship God according to their consciences as revealed through God's holy word." The fact that no members of the Childe family were executed indicates that they must have maintained a low profile during this volatile time period. It is likely that this Childe lineage was willing to lose the spiritual battle for the sake of self-preservation, so that they would win the spiritual war at a later time, which is exactly what Wolstone Childe did.
Although Lollardism was suppressed in 1431 after fifty years of open public support, it is evident that the grass-roots form of this religious movement, which lasted for ninety years underground, was the precursor to the Protestant Reformation in England. During this same time period, priests throughout continental Europe who had also extensively studied the Bible were calling for the reformation of the Roman Catholic Church. In Germany, Martin Luther had publicly circulated his protests by 1517, where he argued that ninety-five reforms were desperately needed. A few years later, John Calvin expressed his objections in France, also calling for major reform. In England, William Tyndale dispersed his complaints, which eventually cost him his life, where he was burned alive in 1536.
|Early Leaders of the Protestant Reformation of the Catholic Church|
Now that a sufficient number of priests were protesting throughout Europe, there was not much that the Roman Catholic Church could do to stop the momentum of this religious reformation. The early writings of these men reveal that their protests fall under the two main categories of doctrinal and hierarchical corruption. Their doctrinal protests dealt with non-Biblical traditions, such as purgatory, particular judgment, the idolatrous worship of saints, and ceremonial objects imbued with sacred power. Their hierarchical protests dealt with political corruption, such as monetary indulgences, simonial nepotism, and the infallibility of the Pope. Hence, the main goal of the majority of the priests that protested this corruption was to reform and set the house of God in order.
|Forty Years of Schismatic Events Leading to the English Reformation|
When King Henry VIII died in 1547, his nine-year old son Edward inherited the throne as a minor, thus placing the management of the government in the hands of Protectors who supported church reform. As a result, the first Protestant legislation in England was passed by Parliament in 1549, which made Catholic mass illegal. In addition, Church services were changed from Latin to English, along with the removal of idolatrous icons from the chapels, such as sacred relics and statutes of saints.
|Role of the Tudor Monarchs in the Protestant Reformation of England|
When Queen Mary died in 1558, the throne passed to her younger half-sister Elizabeth, who wanted to find some middle ground in ecclesiastical issues. In 1559, she restored the Act of Supremacy that her father initially established, thus taking back the Church of England from papal control. In addition, Queen Elizabeth restored the Act of Uniformity that her younger half-brother had established during his reign, thus bringing back the Protestant elements to the Church. She even repealed the legislation against Lollardism that was passed almost 150 years earlier. Although Queen Elizabeth was trying to find some middle ground, the divide between the Catholics and Protestants was so great that Thirty-Nine Articles were passed in the 1563 Convocation that expressed the Anglican doctrine of the "Middle Way." Hence, the Church of England had its official start as the Anglican Church, which retained half of its Catholic nature, while embracing about half of the reforms that Protestants were calling for.
Now that the Church of England had been taken back from Rome, it would never revert back to papal control again, keeping its Anglican nature to this day. Nevertheless, there were many Protestants that were not satisfied with the reforms of the Middle Way, which brought about a new religious movement of Puritanism. Many of the families that were involved with the underground movement of Lollardism took up the cause of Puritanism, because of the similar beliefs in their right to read and interpret the Bible for themselves. For this reason, Puritans believed that moral authority did not derive from the royal supremacy of the English monarchs, but rather was based in the biblical supremacy of the Holy Scriptures.
|Terminology of a Century of English Puritanism from 1560-1660|
The primary reforms that Puritans were protesting against were the Catholic remnants that still existed in the Anglican Church, including the power of bishops who abused their authority in ecclesiastical courts. In addition, Puritans objected to many liturgical and papal traditions, such as the Book of Common Prayer, along with idolatrous vestments and ornaments. It is interesting to note that the majority of those seeking reform in the initial stages of Puritanism only sought after the purification of ceremony and doctrine in the Church of England, where very few desired separation. The majority of separatists, however, who desired complete autonomy in church government for choosing their own ministers, surfaced more during the 17th century when the civil war in England broke out between the two sides.
The volatile time period of the latter half of the 16th century, when the Anglican Church defined many of its stances in relation to the Puritan Movement, is when Wolstone Childe lived. The early records reveal that Wolstone's ancestors were influenced by John Wycliffe, along with the religious movement of the Lollardism that followed. Although Wolstone descended from the Childe esquires of Northwick Park, the religious upbringing that he received derived primarily from the Childe gentlemen of Amersham. These gentlemen not only experienced the full array of the underground Lollardy movement, but also witnessed the ever-changing struggle between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church. There is no doubt that these Childe gentlemen taught the reformative ideals of the Lollards, Protestants, and Puritans to their children in their homes.
|Wolstone Childe descent from the Childe Esquires of Northwick Park|
Wolstone Childe was born in 1569 near the parish border of Farnham Royal and Amersham, in the southern portion of Buckinghamshire. Wolstone was the fourth of six children born to David Childe and Letitia Randall, in which he received his rare name from his maternal Randall side. It appears that the uncommon name of Wolstone originates from the ancient Lord of Yaxley, who was a great landholder around Huntingdon before the Norman Conquest. The Randall family, who had established gentlemen's estates in the shires of Huntingdon and Buckingham, used the name of Wolstone at least three times during the 16th century. Because Letitia's father was close to his first cousin Wolstone Randall, it is evident that she persuaded her husband David to use this family name.
|Wolstone Childe received First Name from his Maternal Randall Line|
When David Childe established his gentleman's estate around the parish border of Amersham and Farnham Royal, his family worshipped at the parish church of Calfont St. Peter due to its close proximity. Furthermore, Calfont St. Peter was the ancestral home of the Randall family in this region, where David became the first Childe to be married in this church, when he married Letitia Randall in 1560. Even though Wolstone and his siblings would have interacted more with their maternal Randall cousins in the parish of Calfont St. Peter, their paternal cousins at the Childe estate in Amersham were only a few miles away.
|Chalfont St. Peter, Buckingham: Marriage of David and Wolstone Childe|
|Map of Childe Migrations from London back to London: |
|Cordwainer Ward of Watling St. London|
|St. Margaret's of Westminster Abbey: |
Parliament Church of Commons
|Early Leaders of Puritan Reformation of the Church of England|
|Map of St. Margaret's Church and Parliament in Westminster, London|
|Palace of Westminster, London: |
Red Bus in front of St. Margaret's Church
|Above: Map of Stepney outside London|
Below: St. Mary's Whitechapel
|Puritan Conversion of Wolstone Childe by Cartwright and Gardiner|
|Church of Wolstone Childe: St. Helen's of Bishopsgate Ward, London|
|St. Helen's where Wolstone Childe and William Shakespear worshipped|
|Early 17th Century Illustration of the Urban Sprawl of London, England|
|Burial of Wolstone Childe: St. Ethelburga's Church, Bishopsgate Ward|
|Family of Wolstone and Ellen Empson Childe|