Biography of LOTHROPP, John
A Puritan Biography & Genealogy
"Blessed are the pure in heart:
for they shall see God."
RICHARD WOODRUFF PRICE
Richard W. Price and Associates
Salt Lake City, Utah
To his numerous and ever increasing family, and to all who love the name and memory of JOHN LOTHROPP This work is respectfully dedicated
John Lothropp has been ranked as one of the four most prominent colonial ministers in America. His spiritual and political strength not only was emulated by his sons and daughters, but has been evidenced in the lives of thousands of his descendants in the past four centuries They include presidents of the United States, a prime minister of Canada, authors, financiers, politicians, and last but certainly not least, key leaders among religious groups throughout the centuries and spanning the continent.
To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the birth of John Lothropp, a grand old Puritan whose life seems to have perfectly mingled intense integrity and boundless charity for others, I have prepared this second revised edition of his history and genealogy. Because he is my ninth great- grandfather, it has been a labor of love as well as professional dedication.
Special thanks are due to the countless hours invested by the professional staff of Richard W. Price & Associates, particularly Andrea C. Osinchak; the talents of genealogist and historian Arlene H. Eakle, genealogist Gary Boyd Roberts who prepared the descending pedigrees, and Lavina Fielding Anderson of Editing, Inc., who honed and polished the final manuscript.
Although any research project of this magnitude owes a great debt to many libraries, special appreciation goes to the staff of the Sturgis Library in Barnstable, Massachusetts, which houses the Lothrop Bible.
Reformer, Sufferer, Puritan, Man of God
In the East Riding of Yorkshire, 180 miles due north of London, lies the small parish of Lowthorpe. The old Danish termination thorpe, usually altered to throp, refers to an outlying farmstead or hamlet. The Lowthorpe church, dedicated to Saint Martin during the reign of Richard II (1377-1400), was originally a very handsome structure; but in the twentieth century it stands partially ruined and the tower and chancel are almost entirely overgrown with ivy. The Gothic architecture of the church indicates that it was built about the time of Edward III (1327-77). One of its chaplains, not surprisingly, was Robert de Louthorp.
Today the parish has 181 residents; but the family names of Lowthrop, Lothropp, Lathrop, and other variations scattered around the world derive from this parish. John Lothropp, a man historians called "vexed and troubled," was born here and would make his influence felt in the religious life of two countries.
From early English histories we discover interesting entries about various Lowthorpes of this parish and its vicinity:
1216--Walter de Lowthorpe is elected sheriff of Yorkshire.
1287--Robert and Richard Lowthorp of Whepsted, Suffolk, are licensed by Edward I to give land in support of certain chaplains celebrating mass daily in the chapel there.
1292--Walter de Lowthorpe is summoned to answer to King Edward I for attempting to regulate the distribution of beer of his tenants without a license from the king. Walter defends himself on the grounds that distributing beer had been an ancient custom of his ancestors.
1474--Robert Lowthorp of Bridlington makes his will, which was proved at York. He gives his landed estate to his relatives in Cherry Burton and Lowthorpe.1
The proven pedigree of John Lothropp begins with John Lowthrop, his great-grandfather. Early in the sixteenth century, John Lowthrop was living in Cherry Burton and held extensive lands there -- and in neighboring areas. He appeared on a Yorkshire subsidy roll where he was assessed twice as much as any other inhabitant of the parish because he owned at least twice as much property. John Lowthrop's estate went to his son Robert.
Robert must have been shrewd or lucky or both, for during his lifetime, those properties increased considerably. Robert's oldest son, Thomas, was born in Cherry Burton. About 1576 Thomas moved to Etton, the parish bordering Cherry Burton, and it was there in 1584 that his son, our John, was born. Thomas died in Etton in 1606 when John was twenty-two years old and a student at Cambridge.
Little is known about John until his matriculation at Queens College, Cambridge, in 1601. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1605 and in l607, on his twenty-third birthday, John was ordained a deacon by the Bishop of Lincoln and began service for the Church of England as a curate of Bennongton, Hertfordshire. After graduation in 1609 with a Master of Arts degree, John Lothropp was admitted as the perpetual curate in charge of the Egerton Church in Kent, a parish four miles east of Eastwell and forty-eight miles southeast of London (see map, p.23). This was the second and last parish in which he officiated for the Anglican Church. The Egerton Church was a beautiful structure standing on the summit of a rounded hill and visible from a great distance. On 10 October 1610, while curate of Egerton Church, Jonn was wed in the neighboring parish of Eastwell to Hannah Howse, the daughter of John and Alice Howse. John Howse was rector of Eastwell, the church to which Egerton was curacy. John had, coincidentally, been the curate at Egerton previously.
During the decades preceding John Lothropp's ordination to the curacy, important developments occurred within the Church of England. James I followed Elizabeth in striving to reduce the influence of Puritanism upon the Anglican Church, both preferring the more ornate and ceremonious high church.
Richard Bancroft, known for his anti-Puritan zeal was advanced to the position of Archbishop of Canterbury in 1604. He drew up a list of articles which had to be assented to by all ministers in and about London. Among these articles were:
1. "That everyone that is baptized is regenerated."
2. "That the minister's power in forgiving sins is not merely declarative."
3. "That the voice of the people is not required in the choice of the minister."
4. "That the Church of Rome is a true church, and truly so-called." 2
ln July of 1604, King James proclaimed: "We have thought good to give time to all ministers disobedient to the orders of the Church, and to ecclesiastical authority here by law established, until the last of November now next ensuing, to bethink themselves of the course they will hold therein. In which meantime, both then may resolve either to conform themselves to the Church of England, and obey the same, or else to dispose of themselves and their families some other way, as to them shall seem meet." 3
Following this and other similar declarations by the King and the Church, three hundred Puritan clergymen withdrew from the Church of England, complaining bitterly of the trials and privations to which they were reduced. John Lothropp would later join the Puritans as he sought to follow his own convictions.
At Egerton, John Lothropp labored faithfully as long as he could approve of the ritual and government of the Anglican Church. But when he could bear it no longer, he renounced his orders to fulfill the ministry to which his conscience and his heart had called him. In 1623, at the age of thirty-nine, with five children to support -- a sixth died in infancy -- John left the Church of England and subscribed to the teachings of the Independent Church, often called the Separatist or Congregational Church. This nonconformist denomination was founded secretly in Southwark, Surrey in 1616. A major reason for its break from the Church of England was the dispute over whether authority of leadership came from God to the church to the minister or from God to the people to the minister. The right of the people to choose their own minister in the Congregational Church today has its root in this early movement.
In 1624, John Lothropp was called to succeed the Reverend Henry Jacob, the first minister of the Independent Church, who had resigned his position of eight years in London to leave for Virginia. The congregation of Jacob and Lothropp was often violently assailed by the Anglicans, and its meetings were interrupted, but the congregation remained steadfast.
Charles I, who came to the throne in 1625, tried to make all political and religious institutions conform to his will. He found Parliament uncooperative in fulfilling his wishes, so he tried to rule alone. He had to raise his own money by reviving obsolete customs and duties. He levied tonnage and poundage (import export duties). He revived compulsory knighthood, requiring every subject whose income was forty pounds a year to accept knighthood or pay a fine. (English men preferred the fines to the obligations of knighthood.) The king sold monopolies, titles, and church positions to the highest bidder and enforced the collection of fines against Roman Catholics who refused to take an oath of allegiance. He mortgaged crown lands, pawned the crown jewels, and collected free gifts from knights and other selected persons. He defied Parliament by levying taxes without approval, rousing particular furor by levy of Ship Money. This was a tax usually imposed on port cities to build and equip warships which Charles extended to all communities.
King James 1. Archbishop William Laud.
William Laud, Bishop of London, equaled the single-mindedness of his sovereign in his opposition to the Puritan movement which had begun in the 1500s. The Puritans wanted simpler forms of worship and stricter controls over morals. Bishop Laud, with the cooperation of King James I and his successor, Charles I, had canons decreed for the excommunication of all who opposed him and his doctrines, or who did not affirm that the Church of England was the true apostolic church. Any persons who separated themselves from the Church "and [took] unto themselves the names of another church not established by law" could be accused of heresy. Repeated offenses could lead to charges of high treason, punishable by death, usually by burning at the stake.
In 1633, Charles I elevated Bishop Laud to Archbishop of Canterbury and empowered him to reform the entire Church of England. Laud, determined to impose a uniform system of worship on all Englishmen, outlawed unadorned buildings and simple services, reviewed and licensed all publications, held public burnings of books and pamphlets which did not pass the censor, denounced landowners who were encroaching on church lands for private profit, and ordered inspection tours of all parishes to determine the orthodoxy of the clergy and the use of the Book of Common Prayer.
Together, King Charles and Archbishop Laud prosecuted scores of Puritans on charges, real and imagined, before the king's courts. Cruel punishments, long unused, were revived; branding, nose splitting, amputation of ears, enormous fines, and long imprisonments.
Laud sent out a mandate ordering constables and other authorities to seek out groups who might be having religious meetings not under Anglican jurisdiction. When they found such private and illegal church gatherings, they were to seize, apprehend, and attack all persons involved, and to keep them in safe custody until they could be dealt with by the established clergy. A special watch was kept on eleven congregations in London, one of which was John Lothropp's group.
Unable to locate Lothropp himself, Laud sent agents to ferret him out in the secret nooks where a group of "rebels" might meet. On 22 April 1632 Reverend Lothropp's group met for worship as usual, in the house of Humphrey Barnet, a brewer's clerk in Black Friars, London. Suddenly, the room was invaded by a ruffian band led by Tomlinson, Laud's warrant-officer. They overpowered the Christian group's resistance and seized forty-two men. Only eighteen escaped. Handed over in fetters, they lingered for months in Newgate prison, which had been made for felons. 4
Henry Jacob's church in Southwark interrupted by officers and carried before the House of Lords. (John Waddington, Surrey Congregational History [London: Jackson, Walford & Haddet, 1866], facing p. 26).
In 1633, while Lothropp was incarcerated, a split took place in the Independent Church. Those who irrevocably denied that the established church was true and rejected infant baptism, broke off under the leadership of John Spilsbury and later joined the Baptists. The remainder continued loyal to
By the spring of 1634, all but John Lothropp were released from prison on bail. As their leader and the chief offender, he was deemed too dangerous to be set free. It was said of Lothropp that "his genius will still haunt all the pulpits in ye country, when any of his scolers may be admitted to preach."5 During his stay in prison, John Lothropp became convinced that the superstitious usages of the Church of England were wrong and he rejected their ceremonies as relics of idolatry. With a desire to reform the Sacrament of bread and wine, and to abandon the use of the surplice (a gown worn by the clergy), the sign of the cross in baptism, and other outward ceremonies and forms, Lothropp joined hands with the Puritans, even though he did not agree wholeheartedly with their religious views.
Even as he took this stand virtually guaranteeing to keep him behind bars, a fatal sickness weakened his wife, Hannah, and left her near death. The "New England's Memorial," (1699), by Nathaniel Morton gives this touching account of the incident and the events which followed:
His wife fell sick, of which sickness she died. He procured liberty of the bishop to visit his wife before her death, and commended her to God by prayer, who soon gave up the ghost. At his return to prison, his poor children, being many, repaired to the Bishop at Lambeth, and made known unto him their miserable condition by reason of their father's being continued in close durance, who commiserated their condition so far as to grant him liberty, who soon after came over into New England. 6
At Hannah's death, the seven surviving Lothropp children ranged in ages from five to eighteen years. One source indicates that Lothropp's followers dressed the children in their best and presented them to Archbishop Laud, demanding to know who was to care for them.
After the death of his wife, Lothropp petitioned for liberty to go into foreign exile, and the petition was granted 24 April 1634. He was required to give a bond and his word that he would not "be present at any private conventicles [gatherings]." He did, however, delay his departure long enough to reorganize the meetings of his congregation, which was joined at this time of crisis by William Kiffin's group. On 12 June 1634, order was given by the High Commission Court that "John Lothropp, of Lambeth Marsh, be attached if he appear not on the next court day." When he did not appear, an order was given that Lothropp was to be imprisoned again if he did not appear in court on June 19. He did not appear, and another deadline, October 9, passed. Finally, on 19 February 1635, Lothropp and his compatriot, Samuel Eaton, were ordered taken into custody for contempt. By this time, however, Lothropp was in New England. John, accompanied by six of his seven living children, thirty-two members of his church, and many others, had sailed on the Griffin from London to Boston. Eaton did not fare as well and reportedly died in a London prison 31 August 1639.
This band of Puritans left for New England filled with confidence that they could create a new world. They believed that God would bless their efforts with prosperity. They intended to apply their doctrine, that each person is responsible for his or her own salvation, directly to their experience in the new land. They defined social good in terms of the free individual: individual effort, plus public service, equals private profit.
New England offered a rare opportunity to show that Zion could be built by a group of people who shared the same orthodoxy. As John Winthrop, governor of Massachusetts, declared: "Wee shall be as a Citty upon a Hill, the eies of all people are uppon us; soe that if wee shall deale falsely with our god in this worke wee have undertake and soe cause him to withdrawe his present help from us, wee shall be made a story and by-word through the world." 7
The trip across the Atlantic was uneventful. John Lothropp apparently owned the only Bible aboard ship. While reading it one evening, he fell asleep; hot tallow from the candle dripped onto several pages, burning a hole through them. John later obtained paper and pasted it over the partially burned pages, then hand-printed from memory the lines of scripture which had been destroyed. This 1606 Bible is on display in the Sturgis Library in Barnstable, Massachusetts, in a room of John Lothropp's original house, now restored and made part of the library.
Governor John Winthrop recorded in his journal on 18 September 1634: The Griffin and another ship now arriving with about 200 passengers; Mr. Lothrop and Mr. Sims, two godly ministers, coming in the same ship ..Mr. Lothrop had been a pastor of a private congregation in London, and for same kept for a long time in prison, upon refusal of the oath [of the established church] ex-officio, being in Boston upon a Sacrament day, after the sermon desired leave of the congregation to be present at the administration, but said he durst not desire to partake in it, being dismissed from his former congregation, and he thought it not fit to be suddenly admitted into any other for example sake, and because of the deceitfulness of man's heart. 8
Having strict notions of church fellowship, Lothropp did not seek to partake of communion with the Boston Puritans, with whom he was not in membership. On 27 September 1634, with thirty-four families from Kent, he settled in Scituate, Massachusetts. Scituate was a small village at the time, having but nine small palisade houses standing upon their arrival.
Like other Englishmen, Lothropp and his followers were hungry for land. In England, land was the basis of political influence, social status, and economic stability; but few actually owned property. New England offered land in abundance; and though they were to move twice before finding a final settlement, the group acted quickly to secure land for subsistence with hope of better things to come. The Puritans wanted to structure a new society. They believed that morality could be legislated -- the length of hair, the observance of the Sabbath Day, and the making of money --spiritual and material well-being. They defined status in terms of material accomplishments and upward mobility rather than position inherited by birth.
Concerns about the uses of authority came naturally to these settlers. They insisted upon church membership as the principal qualification for leadership; they feared unconverted leaders. Because they believed that church members were fit to rule themselves and that conversion gave them equality before God, they insisted upon choosing their own leaders, including ministers, court judges, and town councilmen.
The Puritans recognized the need for limits on power and in 1641 drafted the "Massachusetts Body of Liberties." This document limited political power and defined the legal system in terms of specific liberties which should be available to every voting (propertied) male.
Seeking a balance of authority between the central government and local units, the Puritans sought to ensure both individual right of direct access to God, to civil magistrates, and to each other. When asked what power the central government had to call a church synod (a meeting of local congregations), the deputies of the towns were willing to consider an invitation; they objected to a "command." Independent congregations and local town meetings suited them. Individual churches could extend fellowship to one another without binding members to specific doctrines or to the decisions of a central body without their consent.
Each town was a little commonwealth, selecting its own members and excluding "such whose dispositions do not suit us, whose society will be hurtful to us." Each town was free to make as many laws as it considered necessary and to form as much of an ideal state as its leaders could agree upon.
We can assume that John Lothropp shared most, if not all, of these concerns about authority; but his personal papers and journal say nothing of his philosophy. His records are however, good evidence of his unusually methodical and efficient business habits. His original journal, a log describing in detail daily events, was partially copied in 1769 by Ezra Stiles, later president of Yale College, and the copy was placed in the Yale Library. Over the years, the original has been lost, but the Yale Library copy and a copy at the Sturgis Library in Barnstable are available. Much of the information we have about John Lothropp's ministry in New England comes from this journal. No papers, pamphlets, letters, or other sources containing his thoughts are extant, if any such ever existed. He was involved in a broad historical movement that produced different, often opposing, philosophies. Possibly, he was more concerned about his daily pastorate, the survival of the faithful, and community building than elaborating religious theory.
Prior to Lothropp's coming, the worship meetings of the people at Scituate had been held in the house of James Cudworth, the largest home in the town. On Monday, 29 January 1635, a "meeting for humiliation and prayer" was held in Lothropp's house. In that private dwelling by the votes of the brethren present, John Lothropp was formally chosen to be the minister of Scituate; and by the laying on of hands in true apostolic manner, he was once more inducted into the pastoral office.
Puritan congregations attended two sermons on the Sabbath and a lecture- sermon during the week. Attendance was required absence was punishable by fine. There were also special-occasion sermons: Election day sermons guided voters' choices. Artillery sermons enlisted militia support. Gallows sermons called condemned men to repentance while there was still time; criminals were expected to respond and their words were duly recorded. Fast and thanksgiving sermons explained why God punished or rewarded his saints. An earthquake, the arrival of a boat, the building of the town hall and other similar events found Puritan orthodoxy applied to life.
Contention in religious matters did not cease in the new land. Having found in America "freedom to worship God," the church members quarreled among themselves, largely over the question of baptism. Disagreements arose as to whether baptism should be performed by total immersion, by sprinkling, or merely by the laying on of hands. Lothropp appears to have been a moderate in his beliefs on baptism. As a result some of the original members of the Scituate flock began agitating to oust Lothropp and his followers from the Scituate church. Some members left his fold and merged into the Baptist faith. Because of these disagreements, Lothropp chose to lead his followers out of the congregation rather than precipitate theological controversies that would have resulted in economic and social disruption as well.
After meeting at the Cudworth home for a short time, Lothropp's followers erected a meetinghouse atop the hill behind Kent Street and named the approach to it Meetinghouse Lane. The building itself was probably not unlike those at Plymouth built of logs with the interstices filled with clay, light admitted through windows glazed with oiled paper imported from England, the roof thatched with rushes from the marshes, and the building devoid of means for heat. There are today several monuments to John Lothropp on Meetinghouse Lane in Scituate. In addition, several time-worn Lothropp tombstones commemorate premature deaths of his grandchildren and serve as reminders of how treacherous life was.
John's journal records little regarding his family life in Scituate. The first Lothropp home built in Scituate was completed in 1644. It was twenty-one feet across the front and twenty-nine feet long. The chimney was on the west side, with an oven projecting outside the wall. The roof was thatched. The frame was of great timbers covered with planks an inch and a quarter thick, left unplastered. Lothropp complained that the drafts brought on a "stitch in his side."
It is apparent that he was still a widower in January of 1634, but by 14 June 1635, he had taken a second wife, recorded only as Ann. John and Ann would have a second family of six children, two of whom would die at birth. Lothropp's children were active in the affairs of their day. His son, Samuel, was a member of Barnstable Company and participated in an expedition against Ningret in 1654. He also served as a judge of the court at New London, Connecticut. Thomas, Jane, Samuel, Barnabas, and John, all founded families of importance to the shaping of America's future. John Lothropp's many descendants have strongly influenced the development of American government and religion. The kinship chart at the end of this monograph shows some of his better-known descendants.
Despite obvious efforts at accommodation, contention in the church continued, and it must have sorely troubled Lothropp's peace-loving soul. In addition, the boundaries of land belonging to Scituate were vague, and much of the area was so heavily forested as to present great difficulty to those who needed cleared land for their farms. In 1638, when the people of the church insisted that they could not subsist on the cleared land available to them, Lothropp wrote to Governor Thomas Prence at Plymouth seeking the latter's good offices in obtaining for himself and his devout congregation a new location for the establishment of a town for his flock: "Now we stand steadfast in our resolution to remove our tents and pitch elsewhere, if wee cann see Jehova going before us. And in very deed, in our removeing wee would have our principal ende God's own glorye, and our Sion's better peace and prosperitye, and the sweet and happie regiment of the Prince of our salvation more jointly imbraced and exalted." 9
In January of 1638, Governor Prence offered Lothropp's congregation land near what is now Wareham and Marion. Lothropp was eager to accept the offer, seeking peaceful isolation and removal from the dissension in Scituate. Some of his congregation sold their houses and farms, ready for the move. But the dissenting opinions of others in the congregation prevailed, and Governor Prence's offer was refused since the new site provided very little more cleared land than they had in Scituate. The community continued in great distress. On 13 June 1638, John Lothropp wrote in his journal of: "a day of humiliation; first occasioned by reason of much drought, as also in regard of great dissention in general, also for God's direction and providing for us in point of removal." 10
In the same month the General Court of Plymouth Colony made another offer of land, this time on Cape Cod. John Lothropp recorded on 26 June 1638, "another day of humiliation: for the presence of God in mercy to go with us to Mattakeese," now the town of Barnstable.
The new land was the most attractive area in the colony. The Indian name Mattakeese meant "plowed fields." Some of the land had already been cleared by the Indians and the great salt marshes provided a ready crop of salt hay. Cattle-raising and horse-breeding was at this time profitable business, for great numbers of settlers had arrived in New England to take up farming, and the difficulty of transporting livestock from England drove the price of cattle up considerably.
So it was that John Lothropp, eager to get away from the dissension in Scituate, together with the people of his church, eager for good cleared land, were ready to move. Seven male members of the church decided to stay behind in Scituate, while twenty-two, with their wives, children, and servants, set out for Cape Cod. Some made the forty-mile journey by sea. The rest, with cattle and household goods, journeyed the rough sixty miles by land, arriving at the site of the new settlement in October 1639, two weeks before John and Ann's daughter Abigail was born. According to tradition, one of their first acts on arrival was the celebration of the Sacrament of Communion at what is still known as Sacrament Rock near the present Barnstable-West Barnstable Elementary School. There the ancient pewter vessels that the church had brought from England were used in the distribution of the elements of Communion. On 21 October 1639, Lothropp recorded "another day of humiliation for the grace of our God to settle us here in church estate. and to unite us together in holy walking, and to make us faithful in keeping covenant with God and one another." 11
A description of their Thanksgiving Day in Barnstable on 11 December 1639 demonstrates the gratitude of these people and their gospel-centered lives:
Beginning some half hour before nine, and continued until after twelve o'clock, ye day being very cold, beginning with a short prayer, then a psalm sung, then more large in prayer, after that another psalm, and the WORD taught, after that prayer, and then a psalm. Then making merry to the creatures, the poorer sort being invited by the virtue . . .
In addition to this holy service, the day was a festive and social occasion in their various homes. It is clear that these men were no more fancy men, were in no sense fast men -- they were content by humble, hard toil to work God's best materials into most enduring forms, on which the coming generations could build in all time to come the worthiest monuments of these stout-hearted, truth-loving pioneers. 12
The church was settled in what was to be its permanent home, the village of Barnstable. Henry Kittredge in his Cape Cod history has suggested:
The propriety of naming the new town after the English Barnstable is obvious to anyone who has seen the shore fronts of the two places at low tide -- miles of sand flats in a long narrow harbor, crooked channels twisting their way seaward, and low easy shore lines on both sides. Such is the aspect of both harbors, and so forcibly did their surroundings remind the settlers of the old English town that they named it Barnstable forthwith. 13
Lothropp and his congregation, however, were not the first settlers in Barnstable. On their arrival, they were welcomed with enthusiasm by the Reverend Joseph Hull, who had come from Weymouth a year or two before with some of the members of his church, attracted, like many other pioneers, by the acres of salt hay in the great marshes. But his enthusiasm for the newcomers soon cooled, naturally enough, for they outnumbered his own flock and were welded into remarkable unity by the suffering which they had endured together. Furthermore, there was no room for two churches in the little settlement. Inevitably Lothropp and his congregation took charge, their numbers swelled by some restless spirits who felt they had listened to Mr. Hull long enough. Seeing that his usefulness in Barnstable was at an end, Hull moved to Yarmouth with a few loyal followers and continued preaching to them and to a group of dissenters from the Yarmouth church. The Barnstable church promptly excommunicated him, and the civil authorities declared him under arrest. Hull accordingly moved again, this time to Dover, and finally wound up his career in the Isles of Shoals.
Meanwhile Barnstable prospered under the wise and tolerant guidance of John Lothropp, though its first meetinghouse, located east of Coggins Pond about one-half mile from Sacrament Rock, was not erected until 1646. Lothropp's second house was built in 1644 and is still standing as part of the Sturgis Library in Barnstable Village. Lothropp died in 1653. He had ministered for fourteen years in Barnstable. It was his confidence and his firm yet gentle- hand that made it possible for the church to survive the confusion and turmoil which befell all the early congregations in America and with which Lothropp's church was tried during his ministry. After his death, it was written of him in the church record: "he was endowed with a competent measure of gifts and earnestly endowed with a great measure of brokenness of heart and humility of spirit."'
Along with the "brokenness of heart and humility of spirit" that made Lothropp beloved of his people, there was in him a strength of conviction and a determination that was turned aside by no obstacle. He was a strong leader.
John Lothropp's death marked the beginning of another period of dissension in the life of the church. With his hand gone from the helm, many voices were raised among the members of the church, each offering advice and direction. It was thus impossible for the church to agree on the man who should be his successor, and not until ten years after his death did the church call a new minister.
One of the remarkable things about John Lothropp, and the highest tribute to his character as a minister, was the way in which his congregation followed him throughout his wanderings. Many members of his original Kent and London gathering were with him in Scituate and accompanied him to Barnstable. History shows few more perfect examples of the shepherd and his flock.
Amos Otis, an historian who studied in depth the life of John Lothropp, has given us valuable insights into the integrity and characteristics of this minister, a man devoted to his God and to his independence:
Mr. Lothropp was as distinguished for his worldly wisdom as for his piety. He was a good businessman, and so were all of his sons. Where every one of the family pitched his tent, that spot became the center of business, and land in its vicinity appreciated in value. It is men that make a place, and to Mr Lothropp in early times, Barnstable was more indebted than to any other family . . . Whatever exceptions we may take to Mr. Lothropp's theological opinions, all must admit that he was a good and true man, an independent thinker, and a man who held opinions in advance of his times. Even in Massachusetts, a half century has not elapsed since his opinions of religious toleration have been adopted by legislature. 15
Lothropp was a firm believer in free will. He tolerated difference of opinion, an attitude not common in his time. He even admitted to Christian fellowship the persecuted Anabaptists. In his opinion their method of baptism by immersion was unnecessarily thorough, but if they chose such doctrine they were welcome to their belief and to a warm fellowship in his church. He took no stock in creeds or particularized confessions of faith, for they seemed to him narrow. He substituted the whole Bible for them and gladly admitted to membership in his church anyone who confessed faith in God and who promised to do his best in keeping the Ten Commandments. No applicant was compelled to sign a creed or confession of faith.
During Lothropp's fourteen years as minister in Barnstable, no civil authority was needed to restrain crime. The church served as both the civil and ecclesiastical authority. Lothropp professed freedom to worship God and personally promised to live the word of God as he understood it. Lothropp and his followers, both in England and in America, had the proud and hard-won reputation of being steadfast in the cause of religious independency. No persecutions, no severity that their enemies could inflict, caused them to waver. They submitted without a murmur to loss of property, to imprisonment in loathsome jails, and to separation from their families and friends for years rather than to subscribe to the forms of worship that the English monarchy attempted to force upon them.
In summary, no pastor seems more beloved by his people or had a more profound influence for good on a flock than John Lothropp. He promised that his faith in God should be his constant encouragement and that it should be his unending endeavor to keep His commandments, to live a pure life, and to walk in love with his brethren.
In his will, Lothropp left one precious book from his library to each child in the town, a characteristic charity. Nathaniel Morton, who wrote a tribute to the great ministers of the American colonies, rates Lothropp as the fourth most important. He concludes: "He was a man of humble and broken-heart spirit, lively in dispensation of the Word of God, studious of peace, furnished with Gold contentment, willing to spend and be spent for the cause of the Church of Christ.'' l6
James Cudworth, whose Scituate home first sheltered the congregation praised "Mr. Lathrope, who the Lord has brought to us in safte, whome wee finde to bee a holy, reuerat [reverant] and heuenly [heavenly] minded man"17 A modern historian called him "a man of deep piety, great zeal and large ability." 18
Although much of what John Lothropp knew as Barnstable is gone, many markers have been placed in important places by his remembering posterity.
The Sturgis Library in Barnstable houses the Lothropp Bible and part of John Lothropp's original house. The West Parish Church in Barnstable, built in 1717, has been restored to its original design. It is the oldest Congregational churchhouse standing in America today. Curiously, the many graveyards are the most living part of ancient Cape Cod. As you walk the ground where many souls were laid to rest who built the foundation for the future we are now enjoying, a strong sense of the debt we owe these courageous people settles over us and we gratefully acknowledge it.
1 Rev. Elijah Baldwin Huntington, ~9 Genealogical Memoir of the Lo-Lathrop Family (Ridgefield, Conn.: Julia M. Huntington, 1884), pp. 4,5. Although the bulk of American descendants of John spell their name Lathrop or Lothrop, documents in John's hand consistently give his name as Lothropp, the spelling used in this biography. Sources include Egerton, Kent parish registers and bishop's transcripts 1611-23 recorded in John's hand; Letters written to Gov. Thomas Prence 18 February 1638 & 28 September 1638 signed John Lotllropp; Scituate & Barnstable church records 1637-53, including entries such as "My sonn Thomas Lothropp joyned May 14, 1637."
2 John Waddington, Surrey Congregational History (London: Jackson, Walford & Hadder, 1866), p. 14.
3 Ibid., p. 16.
4 Some sources, including Waddington's Surrey Congregational History, indicate that Lothropp was imprisoned in the old Clink Prison near Winchester Palace, Southwark. Others, including a plaque at the old cemetery, Barnstable, Massachusetts, cite Newgate Prison as the place of Lothropp's confinement. It is possible that he was imprisoned in both places, though Newgate is more likely since he was arrested at Blackfriars, adjacent to Newgate. Also, Chancery Proceedings 12 September 1633, state that Samuel Eaton (one of Lothropp's close associates) "was committed to Newgate Prison by Archbishop Laud." In the same record 19 June 1634, "Lathrop and Eaton be siezed and again committed to jail." This intimates they would likely be confined to the same prison they had been in previously (Charles Leonard Lathrop, Lathrop, In This Place [Lebanon, Conn.: Charles Leonard Lathrop, 1973] 2, ch. 18:28).
5 Huntington, Memoir p. 24.
6 Ibid., p. 25
7 As quoted in John Winthrop's Journal, called History of New England from 1630-16 19, James Savage, ed. (Boston: 1853).
8 Lesba Lewis Thompson, The Descendants of Rev John Lathrop Through the Thomas Fish Line (Washington, D.C.: Daughters of the American Revolution, n.d.), p. 4.
9 John Lathrop Journal in Ezra Stiles Collection, Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscript Library, Manuscript Vault, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. The Journal is also partially printed in Huntington,
Genealogical Memoir p. 31.
11 Ibid., pp. 31-32.
12 Ibid., p. 32.
13 Walter R. Goehring, West Parish Church at Barnstable (West Barnstable, Mass.: Memorial Foundation, 1959), p- 8
14 Ibid., p. 9.
15 As quoted in Huntington, Memoir, p. 33.
17 Letter of James Cudworth of Scituate, 1634 "New England Historical and Genealogical Register 14 (1860): 103.
18 Charles Henry Pope, Pioneers of Massachusetts (Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1969), p. 292.
TIME LINE of JOHN LOTHROPP'S LIFE:
1584 ....Christened at Etton, Yorkshire, England
1601 ....Matriculation--Queen's College, Cambridge
1605 ....Received B.A. from Queen's College, Cambridge
1607 ....Ordained deacon by Bishop of Lincoln
1609 ....Received M.A. from Queen's College, Cambridge Vicar of Egerton, Kent
1610 ....Married Hannah Howse
1612 ....Son, Thomas, born
1614 ....Daughter, Jane born
1616 ....Daughter, Anne, born
1617 ....Son, John, born Daughter, Anne, died
1619 ....Daughter, Barbara, born
1623 ....Left Egerton and Church of England Son, Samuel, born
1624 ....Minister of Independent Church--Southwark Son, Joseph, born
1626 ....Son, Benjamin, born
1632 ....Put in prison
1633 ....Hannah Howse died
1634 ....Released on bail. Arrives in Boston aboard the Griffin Settles in Scituate
1635 ....Chosen to be Minister of the Scituate Church Married Ann
1636 ....Son, Barnabas, born
1638 ....Daughter, (unnamed), born and died
1639 ....Arrived Barnstable Daughter, Abigail, born
1642 ....Daughter, Bathshua, born
1645 ....Son, John, born
1650 ....Son, (unnamed), born and died on same day
1653 ....Died and buried in Barnstable, Massachusetts Age -- 68 years, 7 months
SELECTED FAMOUS DESCENDANTS
1) Louis Stanton Auchincloss (1917- ) -- Novelist.
2) Robert Bacon (1860-1919) -- Secretary of State
3) Frederick Augustus Porter Barnard ( 809-1889 ) -- President of Columbia U./namesake Barnard College.
4) Kingman Brewster,Jr. (1919- ) -- President of Yale U./Ambassador to Great Britain.
5) Oliver Cowdery (1806-1850) -- Counselor to Mormon Prophet, Joseph Smith.
6) Harold Hart Crane (1899-1932) -- Essayist.
7) Charlotte Saunders Cushman (1816-1876) -- Actress.
8) Melville Weston Fuller (1833-1910) -- Chief Justice of U.S. Supreme Court.
9) Franklin Henry Giddings (1855-1931) -- Sociologist.
10) Daniel Coit Gilman (1831-1908) -- Pres. of U.C. -- Berkley/lst Pres. John's Hopkins U.
11) Zina Diantha Huntington (1821-1901) -- Wife of Brigham Young.
12) Charles Edward Ives (1874-1954) -- Composer.
13) George Frost Kennan (1904- ) -- Diplomat, Historian, Ambassador to U.S.S.R. & Yugoslavia.
14) Wayne Lyman Morse (1900-1974) -- U.S. Senator.
15) John Lothrop Motley (1814-1877) -- Historian & Diplomat.
16) Simon Newcomb (1835-1909) -- Astronomer.
17) Georgia O'Keeffe (1887- ) -- Artist.
18) Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) -- Landscape architect (N.Y.C. Central Park and Chicago Lake Front) and author.
19) William Lyon Phelps (1865-1943) -- Literary critic, Teacher, Man of Letters.
20) James Ford Rhodes (1848-1927) -- Historian.
21) Marion G. Romney (1897- ) -- Mormon Apostle.
22) Charles Seymour (1884-1963) -- Pres. of Yale U.
23) Amasa Leland Stanford (1824-1893) -- Politician, Founder, Stanford University.
24) Nathan Eldon Tanner (1898-1982) -- Canadian Diplomat, Mormon Apostle.
25) Frederick G. Williams (1787-1842) -- Counselor to Mormon Prophet, Joseph Smith.