Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wolstone Childe 1569-1602


Chapter 4
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

Between 1366-1372, John Wycliffe earned his Doctorate degree in Divinity at Oxford University by thoroughly studying the Bible.  It was during this time of exhaustive scriptural research that he developed many of his reformative ideas that exposed the Catholic Church, which adhered more to worldly traditions rather than the gospel principles found in the Bible.  By 1377, Wycliffe had such a following that Pope Gregory XI sent forth a papal bull against him to denounce his "Eighteen Theses" as a danger to the Church.  From this point on, those that followed Wycliffe were referred to as "Lollards," which was an Old Dutch work that signified "mumblers" due to their need to whisper to each other about their reformative ideas.
Left: Wycliffe Bible
Right: Exhumation-burning of Wycliffe's Bones

By 1382, the Archbishop of England summoned an ecclesiastical assembly that condemned the reformative beliefs of John Wycliffe as heretical, and his followers were publicly denounced at Oxford University by the term "Lollards."  Around this same time period, Wycliffe had translated the New Testament into English because of his conviction that all Christians should possess a Bible in their own language.  After John Wycliffe passed away in 1384, his Lollard followers continued the translation of the Old Testament, resulting in the copying and distribution of many English Bibles by the end of the 14th century.  Now that a portion of the Gentry class had access to the Bible in their own tongue, they were able to study its principles and see for themselves the apostasy that had taken hold of the clergy over the past centuries.

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:
1431-1521
 In the fifteen years that followed, more "Bible Men" were arrested and scrutinized for their biblical beliefs, which led to the last open rebellion of Lollard supporters in 1431.  Because the majority of Wycliffe's reformative ideas spread out from Oxford University, the highest concentration of Lollards were scattered along the tributary river valleys of the Thames River.  When the Roman Catholic Church tried to purge out the dissidents from these adjoining valleys, many Lollards from the Gentry class rose up in open rebellion and warfare.  However, the Lollards were soundly defeated by the royal army of the Duke of Gloucester, the son of King Henry IV.

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

While the original motive to protest was a genuine attempt to reform the Roman Catholic Church, too many variables were at stake that ultimately led to the schismatic fracturing of Christendom.  In England, variables other than reform surfaced when Pope Clement VII excommunicated King Henry VIII in 1533.  Within a year, England officially broke away from the Roman Catholic Church when Parliament passed the Act of Supremacy, thus bringing about the official formation of the Church of England.  The 1534 Act was based on the principle of royal supremacy, which stated that the monarchy was the Supreme Head of the Church, in contrast to papal supremacy.  Although England had finally thrown off the heavy yoke of the Roman Catholic Church, the only real differences that occurred were the replacement of the Pope by the monarchy and a state-authorized commission of an English translation of the Bible.  Because the Six Articles that were passed by the 1539 Convocation reaffirmed the Catholic nature of the Church of England, the only reform that had taken place was the replacement of one yoke for another.  While the 1534 Act was Catholic in nature as well, which restricted Bible reading by the nobility, the first giant leap of a schismatic break had taken place.

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
 While the 1549 Act was a great victory for the Protestant Reformation, it was short lived because King Edward VI died four years later.  As a result, the throne passed to his elder half-sister Mary, who was staunch Catholic.  During her short five-year reign, Queen Mary had returned the Church of England back to papal control in Rome, where she made it her mission to weed out dissidents calling for reform.  Because she burned alive more than 300 Protestants, she was also known as "Bloody Mary."

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
 Wolstone was raised on a gentleman's estate that his father David established during the mid 16th century.  Because a gentleman's estate was self-sustaining, meaning the hired hands and servants maintained it without the help of the master, this signified that the majority of Wolstone's childhood would have been spent in education rather than hard labor.  However, this factor would not have eliminated Wolstone from helping out and learning the principle of hard work, but only meant that he was a small minority of England's population that was considered literate.  In addition, this also signified that Wolstone's father would have had more time to read the Bible with his children and teach them gospel principles that were expressly forbidden in the schools and churches.

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

While the Childe family worshipped at Chalfont St. Peter, this chapel was still part of the Anglican Church of England, which signified that they had to proceed with caution when expressing their Biblical beliefs.  Although the Elizabethan Religious Settlement offered the "Middle Way" between Catholicism and Protestantism, the Anglican Church still put an iron yoke on the English people who did not conform to its authority.  By 1567, Parliament had passed non-conformity laws that allowed for the imprisonment of Puritan dissidents, which also permitted executions in extreme cases.  Hence, the Anglican Church of England was no better than the Roman Catholic Church when it came to yoking the English people into captivity, because it forced them to accept their interpretations of the Holy Scriptures through the threat of death.
Map of Childe Migrations from London back to London:
1077-1583

Because Wolstone Childe was not a firstborn son, the chances were slim that he would inherit the gentleman's estate of his father David, thus signifying that his education and upbringing were different than his elder brothers.  If Wolstone had chosen to be a Yeoman Farmer, he would have learned how to run a successful farm on his own by physically working in every aspect of his father's estate during his years as a teenager.  When the time came to branch out on his own, he would have used his inheritance money to buy a messuage of land and cultivate it with his own  hands.  On the other hand, if Wolstone was more inclined to the skills of craftsmanship, then his father would have used his inheritance money to pay for an apprenticeship that taught him skills of a trade, which is the path he ultimately decided upon.

When Wolstone Child turned fourteen years old in 1583, his father made formal arrangements for him to enter an apprenticeship on the outskirts of London.  During this time period, apprenticeships were a system of training that lasted for seven years, where the master provided room and board for the apprentice, usually within his own household.  Because apprenticeships during the 16th and 17th centuries were based on indentured contracts, apprentices were not permitted to marry, gamble, or drink.  In addition, the family would post a bond that would be forfeited if the contract was broken by the apprentice.  These contracts were administered by guilds and liveries, which controlled the number of apprenticeships in order to regulate competition.
As the Gentry class expanded during the latter half of the Middle Ages, many non-primogenitor sons migrated to London where they pursued the skills of crafts and trades.  Over time, livery companies were formed to protect the mutual interests of their merchants, where more than 100 liveries were established that became the heart and soul of London during the 16th and 17th centuries.  The livery where Wolstone Childe served his apprenticeship was under the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers, which produced fine leather goods from the white goatskins of Cordoba, Spain.  The power of these livery companies is evident from their use of coats of arms, where the white goat was used as the primary symbol for cordwainers.  While this exotic white leather was utilized for various purposes, it was used primarily to produce fine footwear.

 Worshipful Company of Cordwainers
1272 - Ordinances to Regulate Trade
1439 - Royal Charter of Incorporation
1579 - Official Coat of Arms granted
Company Arms
Cordwainer Ward of Watling St. London
The livery companies of London had a social hierarchy, with apprentices at the bottom.  When their apprenticeships were completed, they became journeymen by swearing the freeman's oath at their guildhall, which gave them the rights of a London citizen to vote, hold office, and engage in economic activity.  The journeymen did not own their own shops, but rather worked for their wages from two types of masters: householders and liverymen.  While householders were masters from owning their own shops, they were part of the Yeomanry and were not considered wealthy enough to be part of the elite livery.  Hence, one's monetary income determined the difference between the two masters of householders and liverymen.

St. Margaret's of Westminster Abbey:
Parliament Church of Commons

When Wolstone Childe was placed in his apprenticeship, he was trained by a master liveryman named Thomas Empson, who also stemmed from a gentleman's estate.  While Wolstone lived in the Empson estate near Westminster Abbey, he attended mass with their family at St. Margaret's Church.  It is most likely that Thomas Empson was a religious man, due to the fact that he was married at this church and his children were christened there as well.  It is interesting to note that the Puritans held Parliamentary services at St. Margaret's, thus making it the official church of the House of Commons.

While Wolstone Childe carried out his apprenticeship under Thomas Empson, he developed a relationship with his daughter Ellen.  However, because the livery rules of his contract forbade apprentices to marry, Wolstone had to patiently wait until he completed his apprenticeship.  After he swore the oath to become a journeyman cordwainer in the spring of 1590, Wolstone and Ellen Empson traveled to the Childe estate in Buckingham, where they were married on May 4th at the church of Calfont St. Peter.  Although a marriage at St. Margaret's Church in Westminster would have benefited the Empson family, it is most likely that Wolstone chose to be married at the same church where his father David was married, thus making him the second Childe to be married at Chalfont St. Peter.

Upon their return to London, the newly weds settled near the Empson estate in Westminster, where Wolstone continued to work for Ellen's father as a journeyman cordwainer.  Within a few years, Wolstone became a householder cordwainer, where the records reveal that he was a Master in the Quarteridge of the Yeomanry.  Interestingly, Wolstone was running the business of his father-in-law when he was commissioned to train his brother-in-law, Thomas Empson Jr., as his apprentice.  It is highly possible that Thomas Empson Sr. was sick during this time period, and was not capable of training his own son, based on the fact that he died a few years later.

Early Leaders of Puritan Reformation of the Church of England

While Wolstone Childe made his living as a cordwainer in Westminster between 1590-1595, he actively followed the political elements of the Puritan movement.  Because Wolstone lived near the Parliamentary courts of Westminster Abbey, it was easy to follow the current religious tone of the country, especially when many of the Puritan leaders gathered there for nonconformist assemblies.  Wolstone Childe participated in these religious gatherings, where he heard many of the fire and ice sermons from the early leaders of the Puritan reformation.  Several of the first generation of Puritan leaders, such as Thomas Cartwright, Laurence Chaderton, Paul Baynes, William Perkins, and Richard Gardiner, were educated at Cambridge University when the Anglican Church was still in its infancy between 1560-1583.  This first generation was not only influential in recruiting and training many of the second and third generation of Puritan leaders, but also turned Cambridge into a hotbed of Puritan learning.  Before the Protestant Reformation, Oxford University was considered the premier center of learning for those entering the ministry.  It is interesting to note that the ministers coming from the Childe family before the Puritan movement were educated at Oxford, where soon after, they preferred an education from Cambridge.

When the Anglican Church was created in 1559, Queen Elizabeth appointed Mathew Parker as the first archbishop, based on his zeal for establishing non-conformity laws that imprisoned or forced Puritans to leave the country, such as the exile of Thomas Cartwright.  However, when Edmund Grindal became the archbishop in 1575, he was sympathetic to the Puritan ideals of Biblical Supremacy, which motivated Cartwright and many other dissidents to return.  His religious stance was based on the scriptures, which not only infuriated Queen Elizabeth, but also moved her to suppress his power when he stated that it was his duty to obey God rather than her.  After Grindal's death in 1583, Queen Elizabeth installed John Whitgift as the new archbishop, who was one of the greatest foes on the Puritan movement.
Map of St. Margaret's Church and Parliament in Westminster, London

It was around this transition that the court of High Commission was instituted at Westminster, which gave the monarchy and the archbishop the authority to convene at will with unlimited power over civil and ecclesiastical issues.  After the Puritan movement gained momentum during the late 1580s from the many nonconformist assemblies, Archbishop Whitgift established various inquisition and recusancy acts for the purpose of eradicating these dissidents.  Many statutory penalties were established to punish sectarian decent from Anglicanism, which caused political unrest throughout the country.  During the 1590s, hundreds of Puritan ministers were suspended or executed, thus making it the most volatile time period of Queen Elizabeth's reign.

While the majority of Puritans only desired Church reform, the harshest statutory penalties were established to punish the Separatists who took matters in their own hands.  When Henry Barrow and John Greenwood, both Cambridge graduates, founded their own separatist congregations in London, they were arrested by the High Commission Court and hanged in 1590. Thomas Cartwright and eight other Puritans were imprisoned for two years by the High Commission Court.  During Cartwright's interrogation, many preachers and supporters held Puritan assemblies in the Star Chamber of the Palace of Westminster, where they appealed his incarceration.  During these two years, Wolstone Childe met a "staunch Puritan" named Richard Gardiner, who was originally converted to Puritanism by Cartwright, thus making him one of his primary supporters.  Richard Gardiner had been educated at Cambridge University, where after he became the Rector of St. Mary's Whitechapel in Stepney, which is located on the opposite side of London.  There is no doubt that Wolstone's discussions with Richard Gardiner were a major turning point in his life, where it was soon after this time that the Child family moved to Stepney and became part of Gardiner's congregation.

Palace of Westminster, London:
Red Bus in front of St. Margaret's Church

While Wolstone Childe attended the non-conformity assemblies in Westminster between 1590-1595, he and Ellen brought forth four sons: Nathaniel, Benjamin, Ephraim, and John.  It is interesting to note the choice of names that they gave their sons, which are all from the Bible.  This choice of names not only breaks the Childe pattern of giving family names for eighteen generations, but also reveals how much Wolstone Childe loved the Holy Scriptures.  While he was zealous in his love toward God and the written Word, Wolstone was not exempt from trials and tribulations, which included the death of his youngest son in the autumn of 1595.

Above: Map of Stepney outside London
Below: St. Mary's Whitechapel

Around the same time period, Wolstone's father-in-law Thomas Empson Sr. died in November, thus creating an incongruous working situation.  While Wolstone was a master cordwainer training his brother-in-law, Thomas Empson Jr., as his apprentice, Thomas was now the owner of his father's estate and workshop, thus making the underling the boss of the master.  Although there is no way to determine the variables of their working relationship, one thing is certain: Wolstone made a drastic change that altered the course of his bloodline forever.  He moved his family from Westminster, which is located on the west side of London on the Thames River, to a sector on the east side of London called Stepney.  This sector is located just outside the old Roman fortified wall on the outskirts of London, which was an excellent area for Wolstone Childe to establish his own cordwainier shop.
Puritan Conversion of Wolstone Childe by Cartwright and Gardiner

The change in Wolstone Childe's life was brought about by the multiplicity of factors, including the death of two family members, a severe change in the working environment, and the Puritan influence of Richard Gardiner.  These three variables motivated Wolstone to become more proactive in the Puritan cause rather than remaining in the safe zone as an innocent observer.  As a result, Wolstone joined the notorious Puritan congregation of Richard Gardiner, who served as the rector of St. Mary's Whitechapel in Stepney.  The main reason that Gardiner's congregation was so controversial was due to the fact that he had been planting the seeds of separation and independence from the Anglican Church, which was the unpardonable sin that extreme dissidents were executed for.  It is amazing to think how Richard Gardiner went unscathed during his tenure at the Whitechapel rector for 48 years, where shortly thereafter, his congregation became one of the first Independent Churches of the English Reformation, by taking over this church from an Anglican parish.

When Wolstone Childe lived in Westminster, the records reveal that none of his children were christened at St. Margaret's, which was the church where all of his Empson in-laws received their ordinances.  It is possible that Wolstone's family refrained from receiving these ordinances because St. Margaret's was still under the control of the Anglican Church, which it remained for a few more years until the Puritans took it over as the Parliamentary Church of the House of Commons.  Wolstone's non-conformity occurred during a transitory period when he was investigating gospel principles through extensive scriptural research.  It is at this time when Wolstone defined his Puritan ideals by working out the levels where he would be proactive in this religious movement.

As soon as Wolstone Childe fully converted to the Puritan cause, his three sons were christened at St. Mary's Whitechapel after he joined the congregation of Richard Gardiner.  Wolstone and Ellen remained members of Gardiner's congregation for the next few years, based on the fact that their next son Joshua was christened there in 1597.  However, by the following year, Wolstone changed churches and started attending the Puritan congregation of St. Helen's, which is located in the northern sector of Bishopsgate Ward in London, within the walls of the old Roman fortification.

Church of Wolstone Childe: St. Helen's of Bishopsgate Ward, London

The most logical reason Wolstone Childe switched churches stems from the differences between the Puritan ideologies of Presbyterianism and Congregationalism.  Because Richard Gardiner was a primary leader of the Presbyterian Classis Movement, there is no doubt that he preached Puritan ideals that replaced Anglican bishops with a "Classis" form of ecclesiastical government.  It is highly likely that Wolstone never fully adhered to this form of Puritanism, due to the fact that his paternal descendants in the 17th century followed the Congregational model, where each congregation governed itself.  Furthermore, St. Helen's Church leaned toward the Congregational form of Puritanism, where today it is considered a conservative Evangelical church.

After Wolstone moved his family to Bishopsgate Ward around 1597, he became proactive in the Puritan cause by assisting the rectors as a lay cleric. This meant that he volunteered his services when needed and preached the Puritan principles from the Bible within private settings. Nowhere is this more manifested than with Wolstone's in-laws, where he was instrumental in converting the Bradshawe family to the Puritan movement. After John Bradshawe married Elizabeth Empson, the sister of Ellen Empson Childe, he had various gospel discussions with Wolstone that influenced him to move his family to Bishopsgate Ward. When the Bradshawes were ready to baptize their son, the records of St. Helen's Parish reveal Wolstone's influence on the family as a lay cleric, which states, "Baptized, 3 February 1599: Job, son of John Bradshawe, gentleman, and Elizabeth his wyfe, from Wolstone Childe's house." Later that year, Wolstone and Ellen's newborn daughter Elizabeth was baptized as well. Hence, Wolstone Childe's conversion to Puritanism is not only evident from the congregations where he worshipped, but is also apparent from his influence on his extended family and descendants.
St. Helen's where Wolstone Childe and William Shakespear worshipped

When Wolstone Childe lived in Bishopsgate Ward at the close of the 16th century, it was considered one of the wealthier wards in London, where many Puritans of the Gentry class resided.  The stone monuments within the nave of St. Helen's Church reveal that many prominent citizens worshipped there with the Childe family, including several lord mayers of London, aldermen, knights, esquires, gentlemen, and yeomen.  Perhaps the most celebrated funerary monument at St. Helen's Church is a large stained glass window despicting William Shakespear, who has been considered by many scholars as the "greatest writer of the English language."  The parish records of St. Helen's reveal that William Shakespear attended this church from 1597-1599, which is the exact same time period as Wolstone Childe.  It is quite likely that Wolstone personally knew the famous playwright during these three years, based on the fact that they were both from the same class, as William Shakespear was granted a coat of arms in 1599 by Queen Elizabeth.
Early 17th Century Illustration of the Urban Sprawl of London, England


By the close of 1599, Wolstone Childe changed churches once again and started attending St. Ethelburga's Church in Bishopsgate Ward.  This chapel was located just north of St. Helen's Church, where these two churches were affiliated by sharing the same burial ground.  The records of St. Ethelburga's Church reveal that Wolstone Childe had prospered in his business, based on the fact that he gave generous donations to the church each year between 1599-1602.  However, at the age of thirty-three, Wolstone Childe suddenly died from an unknown sickness in February of 1602.  His death is recorded in the Administrations of the Archdeaconry Court of London, which indicates that his estate was settled and probated on March 7, 1602, in the parish of St. Ethelburga.  Although the particulars of his death are unclear, it is possible that he died of the plague that was still ravaging many parts of Europe at that time.  The plague was more virulent and devastating in the urban centers where populations were heavily concentrated, such as London during the early 17th century.

While there were many important decisions that Wolstone Childe made during his lifetime that had a direct impact on his family, there was perhaps none that was greater than his conversion to Puritanism.  This conversion not only caused Wolstone to search for a Puritan congregation that adhered to gospel principles from the Bible, but was also the primary factor that caused him to change churches several times during his lifetime.  It is evident that the last major transformation in Wolstone's life occurred when he moved his family to the churches in Bishopsgate Ward of London.  Shortly after Wolstone's death, these churches became the center where his relict wife and children made all of their familial contacts, which were instrumental in bringing about the Puritan migration of Wolstone's paternal grandchildren to the New World during the 17th century.  The first of these Puritan contacts occurred with the Bradshawe family, who showed their gratitude for Wolstone's religious influence in their family by granting all of Wolstone's children a small inheritance in John Bradshawe's will of 1606.

Burial of Wolstone Childe: St. Ethelburga's Church, Bishopsgate Ward

The second of these Puritan contacts occurred with the Warren family, who were neighbors of the Childe family in Bishopsgate Ward.  After the tragedy of Wolstone's untimely death in 1602, another misfortune occurred around the same time period when the wife of Edward Warren unexpectedly passed away.  Because Ellen Childe was left as a widow to care for five children that ranged from two to ten years of age, she must have felt the need to immediately remarry so that her children would be provided for.  As a result, the similar circumstances that Ellen shared with widower Edward Warren brought the two together, whereby they were married the following year.

Family of Wolstone and Ellen Empson Childe

 The prosperity of the Warren family is evident, because Edward came from a gentleman's estate that had thrived in the profession of saddlers.  Hence, Edward not only provided the necessities of life for Ellen Childe's five children, but also presented them with many opportunities that their late father Wolstone would have provided.  By the time that Ellen had reached the age of forty-six, the plague that had most likely taken the life of her late husband Wolstone, had come for her, and she died on June 26, 1616.  She was buried at St. Botolph churchyard in Stepney.  At that time, her six surviving children ranged from ages of twelve to twenty-five.

To conclude, the religious lives that Wolstone and Ellen Empson Childe carried out not only had a spiritual affect on their children, but were also exemplary for generations to come.  While Wolstone was raised on a gentleman's estate near Amersham in the shire of Buckingham, he inherited the Lollard and Protestant teachings of his Childe ancestors, which prepared him for his Puritan experience when he migrated to London.  During his tenure as a cordwainer in Westminster, Wolstone Childe attended non-conformist assemblies where he met several ministers that were influential in his conversion to Puritanism.  Wolstone's religious transformation is not only marked by his decision to change churches several times, but also by his exceeding great faith as he and his wife Ellen endured the harsh trial of losing a son.  Wolstone and Ellen's continued drive to share the gospel with their Bradshawe in-laws after this tragedy makes it clear that they did not become bitter towards their Heavenly Father, but instead, they trusted in Him and turned to Him in their greatest hour of need.  Instead of losing faith, they strengthened their children by instilling in them the faith and courage to go on in the face of opposition.  Their faith is evident in the commendable lives that their children led and the god-like characteristics that so many have praised them for having.  Wolstone Childe's religious convictions that were passed down to his children were instilled in each one of his patrilineal grandsons, who brought his surname and bloodline to America during the 17th century.  There is no doubt that Wolstone Childe's conversion and proactive role in the Puritan Reformation of England raised his descendants to a higher spiritual level that prepared each succeeding generation for the glorious events that would usher in the restoration of the gospel a few centuries later.  Thus, in the short life that Wolstone Childe experienced, he fulfilled the measure of his creation by completing a spiritual mission that was critically needed for this royal bloodline, thus making him one of the greatest members of the Childe family to ever live.

Pages 153-179
"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

1 comment:

  1. I find this very fascinating. i'm a direct descendant of Wolstone-Joshua- joseph etc. I've read where Wolstones parents were Thomas Childe and Johanna Adams Childe. Who are the actual parents of Wolstone? Is this book available for purchase? Also, is Robert Childe, part owner of the Mayflower related to Wolstone? Thank you Tim Martin

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