Christopher Elderfield (1607-1652)

English Preacher of the Gospel and Theologian

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His Works:

  1. The Civil Right of Tithes (1650)
  2. Cuique Summ, The Law of Tithes Against All Opposers (1564)

Biography of Christopher Elderfield:

Christopher Elderfield (1607-1652), divine, the son of William Elderfield, was born at Harwell, Berkshire, where he was baptised 11 April 1607. He received preliminary education at a local school kept by Hugh Lloyd, M.A., the vicar, and in 1621 he entered St. Mary Hall, Oxford, as a batler. In due course he took the two degrees in arts and entered into holy orders. After holding some minor appointments, one of which was apparently that of curate at Coates, Essex (manuscript note in Elderfield’s Civill Right of Tythes, Brit. Mus.), he became rector of Burton, Sussex. The duties of this post were no more than those of private chaplain to Sir William Goring, whose residence, Burton Place, was the only dwelling-house in the parish. There Elderfield took up his quarters and devoted himself to study. Naturally reserved, he took full advantage of his position and lived in the completest retirement. In 1650 he published ‘The Civill Right of Tythes,’ Lond. sm. 4to, a learned treatise, displaying much research in both law and theology. The great pains he took with a second book was believed to have cost him his life. This was ‘Of Regeneration and Baptism, Hebrew and Christian,’ Lond. 1653, 4to, published after his death by his executors. He died 2 Dec. 1652 at Burton Place. In his will he directed that he should be buried in the chancel of his church, but this privilege was refused by Sir William Goring, because, as was alleged, he was disappointed of the legacy he expected to receive, and the body was laid in the nave. Elderfield had left the bulk of his property, amounting to 350l., to his native parish of Harwell; 284l. was expended in the purchase of land in South Moreton, and by a decree in chancery the remaining 66l. was handed to the churchwardens of the neighbouring village of Hagbourne for charitable purposes. He also left 36l. for the benefit of ejected ministers, and he bequeathed to the university of Oxford his manuscript of ‘Lyra on the Psalms,’ ‘Rodolphus, his Postills,’ and a copy of ‘Clemens Romanus,’ bound up with a ‘Tract on Purgatory.’ Elderfield was described by Richard Baxter (Nonconformist’s Plea for Peace, pt. i. p. 205) as ‘a very learned and great conformist.’

[Wood’s Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iii. 336.]

Bible Verse:

“I will be sanctified by those that draw near to me…” (Lev. 10:3).

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