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Puritan Memoirs - Mr. Laurence Chadderton

Puritan Memoirs - The Life and Death of Some Reformed Ministers

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The life and death of Mr. Laurence Chadderton.

MR. CHADDERTON was born in Lancashire, 1537, a descendant of a very wealthy family. He was brought up in the popish religion; and his father, intending him for the law, sent him to the inns of court; but he soon renounced the religion of his father, became a protestant, forsook the study of the law, and entered at Christ college, Cambridge, 1564. Having thus changed his religion, and fixed himself in the university, he acquainted his father with these circumstances, and requested some pecuniary support. But his father, indignant at his religious choice, not only refused him any support, but also disinherited him of considerable estates; and, as a farther demonstration of the strength of his resentment, sent him a pock, with a groat in it, that he might go abegging. Though thus unfeelingly abandoned by his parents, he was much comforted by these words of the Psalmist, “When my father and mother forsake me, then will the Lord take me up.” Young Chadderton, though cast off. by his unnatural parents, still continued at the university, with the most inflexible adherence to his studies, and became so eminent a scholar, that, in three years, he was chosen fellow of his college. In 1576 he had a public dispute with Dr. Baro, the Margaret professor, upon his Arminian tenets; on which occasion he displayed great learning, piety, and moderation. He afterwards took an active part in the proceedings of the university against Baro and Baret, and united with others in addressing certain letters to the chancellor of the university. For the space of sixteen years he continued lecturer to one of the churches in Cambridge, in which his holy, learned, and judicious sermons became a blessing to the place. October 26th, 1578, he preached the sermon at Paul’s cross; which, it appears, was the only article he ever published. About this time he was appointed, by parliament, to be preacher at the middle Temple, and have a salary of twenty pounds a year, to be raised by the contributions of the house. In 1584, when Sir Walter Mildmay founded Emanuel college, he made choice of Mr. Chadderton to be the first master. But his modesty made him reluctant in undertaking the charge. Sir Walter, however, told him, that unless he would acquiesce with his wishes, he would not proceed. If you will not condescend to be master, said he, I will not be the founder; on which he complied, and continued in the office thirty-eight years. Amongst many distinguished characters, who had been Chadderton’s pupils, William Bedell, afterwards bishop of Kilmore in Ireland, was one. This learned prelate always paid the highest respect for his venerable tutor. After Bedell was made provost of Dublin college, and introduced to a friendly correspondence with the celebrated Usher, he could not make mention of his name without sensations of pleasure and esteem. “The arts of dutiful obedience, and also of just ruling, in part (says he), I did, for seventeen years, endeavor to learn under the good father Chadderton, in a well tempered society. Of the cunning tricks of packing, siding, bandying, and skirmishing with and between great men, I confess myself ignorant, and now I am too old to be taught.”

In 1622 the doctor resigned his mastership to the famous Dr. Preston, lest his successor should be a man of Arminian principles. He lived, however, to see Dr. Bancroft, and after him Dr. Howldsworth, in the same office. Dr. Chadderton was a decided puritan, though a man of great moderation. He joined the classical associations, and subscribed the book of discipline. In 1603 he was nominated by king James to attend the conference at Hampton court; and, on account of his great learning, he was also nominated by his majesty for one of the translators of the present version of the Bible. He died Nov. 13th, 1640, in the hundred and third year of his age. His remains were interred in St. Andrew’s church, Cambridge, when Dr. Howldsworth preached his funeral sermon, in which he gives him a very large and deserved commendation.

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