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The Tribulations and Triumph
Reverend John Lothrop

John Lothrop home.jpg (68105 bytes)

     John Lothrop, Sr. was twice a seventh great grandfather of Winfield Dyer Gallup, once through Thomas, a child by his first wife, and once through John, Jr., a child by his second wife. (It is interesting to note here that Rev. John had a child named John, Jr. by each of his wives and both of these children lived to adulthood – A rather confusing thing for genealogical researchers.). "Lothropp" was the form in which Rev. John wrote his name but his descendents were not consistent in their spelling. All his sons omitted the final p. His son Samuel sometimes wrote his name Lathrop, and many of his descendants in Connecticut and Western Massachusetts so spell the name. In the records we find the name written Lathropp, Lothrop, Lathrop, Laythrop, Lowthrop, and Lawthrop. In Wood's Fasti the name is written Lathrop and Lowthrope. Genealogists Calamy, Neal, Crosley, Winthrop and Prince, write the name Lathrop. Since Rev. John’s children used the spelling "Lothrop", that is what is used in this compilation for the sake of consistency.
     At this point of research no primary source for the English birthplace of John Lothrop has been found. In fact, the birthplaces for many of these early Lothrop's and their spouses have been reported in widely separated places, e.g., the counties of Leicestershire, Kent, Yorkshire, Staffordshire and Greater London (Middlesex) which is uncustomery for the times. Usually, families of the same name which are closely related, and that of their spouses as well, will be found in the same county or neighboring ones. More research needs to be done here.
     John’s first wife was Hannah Howse, of Eastwell, Kent County, England, their marriage license having been issued in Canterbury, October 10, 1610. She died in England about 1633. She was the mother of the eight older children. He married his second wife, Anne Hammond, in Scituate, MA and by her had another six children. She died in Barnstable, MA, February 25, 1688.
     The following is a compilation and merging of various biographies to be found on this famous man. It should be especially interesting to those who attend the Congregational Church but his life is an example to anyone who believes that the measure of a person is taken by the depth of their dedication to moral principles.

John Lothrop’s Origins, Education and Early Work ---
Baptized in Yorkshire, England, on December 20, 1584, he was the son of Thomas Lothrop of Cherry Burton who had twenty-two children, and grandson of John Lowthorpe of Lowthorpe, Yorkshire, England.
     Of the early life of Mr. Lothrop little more is known. The Rev. Dr. John Lothrop, late of Boston, in a memoir published in the first volume of the second series of the Mass. Historical Society's publications, says that there is "no doubt that Oxford was the place of Mr. Lothrop's public education." He refers to Wood's 'Athenoe et Fasti Oxonienses, published in 1691, as his authority. Wood professes to record the names of those "who have been admitted to one of two academic degree of degrees, in the ancient and most famous university of Oxford." He names "Mr. John Lothrop" not however in the list of those educated at that university. It is the opinion of the great genealogist Savage, who gave considerable attention to this subject and examined the records of several of the colleges, that tradition is the authority for the statement that Mr. Lothrop was educated at Oxford. Deane, in his history of Scituate, states that Mr. Lothrop was educated at Oxford. He relied on Dr. Lothrop as his authority, who evidently mistakes the meaning of the passage in Wood's Fasti. John matriculated at Queens College, Cambridge in 1601. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1605 and, in 1607, 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 Bennington, Hertfordshire. By 1609 he had received his Master of Arts degree and he was admitted as the perpetual curate in charge of the Edgerton Church in Kent, a parish of the Established Church four miles east of Eastwell and forty-eight miles southeast of London. This was the second and last parish in which he officiated for the Anglican Church.

The Independent Church in England ---
At Edgerton, John Lothrop 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, 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 Southward, Surrey in 1616.
     A major reason for the this break from the Church of England was the dispute over whether the 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. As might be imagined, this difference in belief was absolutely crucial to the might of the authorities of the Established Church in their control over the people. It was into the center of this storm of controversy, rebellion and change that Rev. John Lothrop was chosen the successor to Rev. Henry Jacob, the first pastor of the First Independent (Congregationalist) Society in London, a Separatist church at Southwark, London.
     (Rev. Jacob is creditied by some as the founder of the Independent Church in England. However, this distinction is disputed by those who point out that there were Independents in England as early as the time of Wickliffe. The first Independent Church organized in England was that at Scrooby, by Bradford, Brewster, Robinson and others, in 1606.)

The Independent Church in America ---
In 1620 a part of the church at Leyden, Holland removed to Plymouth, Massachusetts. These people, the "Pilgrims", carried with them the old Scrooby covenant, and recognized the form of church government adopted by the Independents in Holland and England. The famous compact drawn up and signed on board the "Mayflower" called by eminent legislators the "first written constitution", was borrowed from this church organization with some slight variations to adapt it to their wants as a civil community. The first church in Salem, in Charlestown, the second in Boston, the Scituate and Barnstable churches, had essentially the same covenant.
     Very few of the first settlers of the Massachusetts Colony had belonged to Independent churches in England or Holland. The large majority were Separatists or Puritans, as nick-named by their opponents. There was, however, little difference between them in matters of faith and practice. The Plymouth people were more catholic, more tolerant to those who differed from them in opinion. The "Mayflower Compact" read in part as follows: "In ye name of God, Amen, We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread soveraigne Lord, King James,...doe by these presents solemnly & mutualy in ye presence of God, and one of another, covenent & combine ourselves together into a Civil body politick,...and by vertue hearof to enacte, constitute, and frame such just & equall lawes, ordinances, acts, constititions, & ofices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meete & convenient for ye generall good of ye Colonie, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience."

His Situation under King Charles I ---
At the time of John Lothrop’s affiliation with the Independent Church, King Charles I was in great conflict with parliament. Charles I, who had just come 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. 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 but Charles extended it to all communities.
     William Laud, Bishop of London, equalled the singlemindedness of his sovereign in his opposition to the Puritan movement. 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 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 clery and confirm their use of the Book of Common Prayer.
     Puritans, Presbyterians and Independents, all dissenters from the Church of England supported Parliament in its struggle with the King. Together, King Charles and Archbishop Laud prosecuted scores of these people on charges, real and imagined, before the king's courts. Cruel punishments, long unused, were revived; branding, nosesplitting, amputation of ears, enormous fines, and long imprisonments. This conflict led up to the English Civil War, during which King Charles I would be beheaded in 1649 by forces led by Lord Cromwell.

Lothrop’s Apprehension & Imprisonment ---
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 Lothrop's group.
     Unable to locate Lothrop himself, Laud sent agents to ferret him out in the secret nooks where a group of "rebels" might meet. On 22 Apr 1632 Reverend Lothrop'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 built for felons. In 1633, while Lothrop 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 Lothrop.
     By the spring of 1634, all but John Lothrop 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 Lothrop that "his genius will still haunt all the pulpits in ye country, when any of his scoler may be admitted to preach." During his stay in prison, John Lothrop 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, the sign of the cross in baptism, and other outward ceremonies and forms, Lothrop joined hands with the Puritans, even though he did not agree wholeheartedly with their religious views. Even as he took this stand virually guaranteeing to keep him behind bars, a fatal sickness weakened his wife, Hannah, and left her near death.

His Release & Banishment ---
At Hannah's death, the seven surviving Lothrop children ranged in ages from five to eighteen years. One source indicates that Lothrop'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, Lothrop petitioned for liberty to go into foreign exile, and the petition was granted 24 Apr 1634. He was required to give bond and his word that he would not "be present at any private conventicles." 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 Lothrop, of Lambeth Marsh, be attached if he appear not on the next court day." When he did not appear, an order was given that Lothrop was to be imprisoned again if he did not appear in court on June 19. He did not appear, and another deadline, Oct 9, passed. Finally, on 19 Feb 1635, Lothrop and his compatriot, Samuel Eaton, were ordered taken into custody for contempt. By this time, however, Lothrop was in New England.
     [Of this part of John’s life, the following "New England's Memorial," was written in 1699 by Nathaniel Morton who gives a touching account of the incident and the events which followed:
     "His wife fell sick, of which sickness she died. He procurred 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 durrance, who commiserated their condition so far as to grant him liberty, who soon after came over into New England."]

Lothrop In America ---
John, accompanied by at least four, probably six, of his seven living children, thirty-two members of his church, and many others, embarked from London for Boston on September 18, 1634, aboard the ship "Griffin", having as a fellow passenger the celebrated Anne Hutchinson. On his arrival he settled at Scituate, MA with many of his flock who had accompanied him.
     He became pastor of the First Church in Scituate where he remained until 1639 when a dispute split the church. From Situate he moved in 1639 to Barnstable, Massachusetts together with a group of his followers from the Situate church. There he ministered until his death November 8, 1653. Barnstable considers Rev. John Lothrop to be its founder and has many references to him in the city's history. His house, built in 1644, forms the original part of the Sturgis Library in Barnstable, Massachusetts, the oldest library in America and an important genealogical resource for the Nation.

Summary remarks ---
The following tribute is paid to Rev. John Lothrop in Morton's "New England Memorial" (mentioned above): "He was a man of a humble and broken heart and spirit, lively in dispensation of the word of God; studious of peace, furnished with Godly contentment, willing to spend and to be spent for the cause of the Church of Christ."
     In his will, dated August 10,1653, he makes provision for his wife and mentions his children,Thomas, Benjamin, John, Jane, and Barbara. Beside these he had Samuel and Joseph, both born in England. Among the early divines of New England none had led a more devoted life or had suffered greater hardships for his religion.
     He was recognized as a man who held opinions in advance of the times, influential over the people so that the power of the Civil Magistrate was not needed to restrain crime, and that to become a member of his church, no one was compelled to sign a creed or profession of faith.
     In the few simple details, already given, we have the history of a movement which has produced most remarkable results -- the ingrediant which is still leavening the whole lump of the christian and the political world. The essential principle of Independency is; it asserts the freedom and the right of the race of man to choose it’s course, that the power of the church is in the congregation, not in ministers nor in bishops, or popes, not in kings or parliaments, but in the people.

[ Sources: Savage's Genealogical Dictionary, III: 119-122; Davis's Ancient Landmarks of Plymouth, p. 175; Hall Memoranda, pp. 35-46; Boston Transcript, Sept. 30, 1903; Gen Notes of Barns Fam- Otis, II, pg 163, 170-211; Lowthrop Gen, pg 8-11, 26; Saints and Strangers - Willison, reprint 1983, pg 143, 316, 357, 380; Mayflower Source Records, pg 519; History of Barnstable, MA, Historical Society.]


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    Constructed in 1644 for the Reverend John Lothrop, founder of Barnstable, this house forms the original part of the Sturgis Library in Barnstable, Massachusetts, the oldest Library building in the United States. The building is also one of the oldest houses remaining on Cape Cod. Since Reverend Lothrop used the front room of the house for public  worship, another distinction of the Sturgis Library is that it is the oldest structure still  standing in America where religious services were regularly held. This room, now called  "The Lothrop room," with its beamed ceiling and pumpkin-colored wide-board floors,  retains the quintessential early character of authentic Cape Cod houses.
     On February 25, 1782, William Sturgis, a direct descendant of Reverend Lothrop, was born in this house. To help support the family after the death of his father, William went to sea at the age of 15. In 1810, he founded Bryant and Sturgis, clipper ship owners engaged in the Northwest and China Trades. In 1863, after a successful career, Captain Sturgis willed his former home, plus $15,000 in bonds, for the establishment of a Library in the village of Barnstable. The Library opened in 1867 with 1,300 volumes, many of which came from Sturgis' private library. Today, Sturgis Library is a national treasure listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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