Saturday, May 7, 2011

Line 4, John Lathrop, Jailbird with a heart for God

Unlike my forefather, John Billington, my great-times 10- grandfather, John Lathrop was a shining example of a Christian man, despite having spent several years in jail. John Lathrop was a man dedicated to his walk with the Lord, who gave up his freedom rather then worship God in an unworthy way and later, gave up his homeland to start afresh in a wild barely known land halfway around the world.

John Lathrop was baptized 20 December 1584 at Etton, Yorkshire, England, son of Thomas and Maud Lathrop
Married first Hannah Howse, London, England on 10 October 1610
      Second Anne Hammond, Situate, Plymouth, Massachusetts on 27 September 1634
Died 8 November 1653 Barnstable, Barnstable, MA
Buried 10 November 1653 at Lathrop Hill Cemetery, Barnstable, Barnstable, MA
Children: by his first wife:
1.      Thomas Lathrop baptized 12 February 1611/12 in Eastwell, Ashford, England. He married Sarah Larned
2.      Jane Lathrop baptized 29 September 1614 in Edgerton, Kent, England died 1658 in Barnstable, Barnstable, MA. She married Samuel Fuller who came over on the first Mayflower voyage of 1620.
3.      Anne Lathrop baptized 12 May 1616 in Edgerton, Kent, England and died there 30 April 1617
4.      John Lathrop baptized 22 February 1616/17 in Edgerton, Kent, England in Edgerton, Kent, England. He married Mary Heily and probably returned to England where he died.
5.      Barbara Lathrop baptized 31 October 1619 in Edgerton, Kent, England and married John Emerson
6.      Samuel Lathrop baptized 28 February 1699/00 in London, Middlesex, England. He died and was buried 28 February 1699/00 in Norwich, New London, CT. He married Elizabeth Scudder
7.      Joseph Lathrop baptized in London, Middlesex, England
8.      Benjamin Lathrop baptized in London, Middlesex, England
By his second wife
9.      Barnabas Lathrop
10.   Daughter who died in infancy
11.   Abigail Lathrop
12.   Bathshua Lathrop
13.  John Lathrop
14.   Son who died in infancy

John Lathrop was born at Etton, East Riding, Yorkshire, England, Dec 20, 1854, the son of Thomas Lathrop. His mother’s name has long been debated but lately new evidence points toward her being the Maud Lathrop buried at Etton on 6 June 1588. In "The American Genealogist” Vol 70, No. 4, pp 250-252 Clifford L. Stott wrote that the bad-boy of genealogy, Anjou (who has caused me no end to frustrations with his made-up genealogies) named Mary Salte as Thomas’s second wife. It is true that Mary Salte DID marry Thomas Lathrop, however he was a different Thomas then the one who fathered the Rev. John Lathrop in 1584. A Maud Lathrop, buried 6 June 1588 in the Etton Church yard, is a perfect fit to be John’s mother.

John had numerous siblings as his father married three times and produced eight children from his first married, five from his second and nine from his third and last marriage. Thomas died in 1629. John began his college education at the age of sixteen, entering Christ Church, Oxford on 15 October 1602. He then went to Queen College, Cambridge where he graduated with a B.A. in 1605 and an M.A. in 1609. He was admitted a pleb of Christ Church, Oxford on 15 October 1602

John’s first post as a pastor was at Little Chart Kent in 1610. In 1611 he went to Egerton in Eastwell, Kent, England as curate at the parish church there. Sometime before 1623 when he left this post, John’s theology changed and he left the Church of England to became a dissenter. Why or who changed John’s theology isn’t known but I can’t help but imagine that he was a man who was a deep thinker who pondered the Word of God with a great desire to know God better.

The Church of England was the “child” of Henry VIII; who when he was unable to obtain a Catholic annulment from his first marriage to the Spanish Princess, Catherine of Aragon so he could marry Anne Boleyn, declared himself the head of the Church of England. This caused great distress to the supporters of Queen Catherine and to those, like Catherine, who were devote Catholics. However, there was already a faction in England who had begun to follow the theology that Martin Luther, in Germany, was teaching. The break from Rome was welcomed, not just from the political “correct” of the era but those who had been religiously incorrect. Henry VIII got his marriage to Anne Boleyn (which only lasted until he beheaded her three years later) and the power of being not only King of England but of being the “pope” of the English church. By 1684 when John Lathrop was born, England was being ruled by Henry and Anne’s daughter, Queen Elizabeth the First, a strong ruler who ruled with a firmness arrived from her shaky claim to the crown. And while, I doubt that anyone would accuse her of being a strong Christian, she held firm to her rule as protector of the Church of England. Her successor was James the Sixth of Scotland (James the First of England) who had been bought up by his Calvinistic Uncle James Stewart. While James was no churchman, he was a man who liked power and the role of protector of the church was not one he would let go of to the Catholic pope or for a group of independent thinkers. John Lathrop’s decision to leave the Church of England and join the dissenters was a brave move on his part.

The dissenters must have soon realized that the Rev. Lathrop was a remarkable preacher and pastor. In 1624, a year before the death of James the First, John was called as pastor for the First Independent Church of London, replacing Henry Jacob as pastor. Henry Jacob was a man who stood firm on his faith but had a compassionate tolerance for those whose theology didn’t totally match his. John Lathrop demonstrated this same trait. He didn’t back down on what he believed but he understood that God is bigger and more complicated then one man can grasp in a lifetime. There are historians who have remarked that Barnstable, Massachusetts where the Lathrops settled in the New World didn’t demonstrate the panic and distrust of Quakers and Baptists that Boston and other heavily Puritan settlements in the New World did.

William Loud, the Bishop of London, wasn’t tolerant of conflict of theology and he soon became the enemy of anyone who did not agree to his theology. The little sixty-member First Independent Church of 1624 had no settle home as they had to meet in secret in order to avoid the iron-rule of Bishop Loud. They managed this until April 22, 1632 when the Rev. Lathrop and forty-one of his fellow parishioners were arrested while privately worshipping at the house of Humphrey Barnet, a brewer's clerk. Eighteen others managed to escape but the rest were thrown in The Clink prison. (Hum – do you think that’s where we get the expression “thrown into the clink!”) They were jailed for failing to take the oath of loyalty to the established English church. There they stayed for two years. In the spring of 1634, the parishioners were released, all except Lathrop whose theological influence was considered a danger to the Church of England and it’s king.

While I feel that John Lathrop was a remarkable man, with high standards and a warm heart, definitely a “man after God’s own heart”, I think it is time to give some acclaim to his poor suffering wife. Little is written of Hannah Howse or House, except that she died while her husband was in jail. However, one can deduct from the record of her brother, Samuel, who, along with their sister Penninah, was imprisoned with Lathrop, that she came from a family with the strength to stand up for their convictions. Records pertaining to Samuel House’s arrest show his convictions. "Samuel Howes!" saith the Kings Advocate, "you are required by your oath to answer to the articles." HOWE: "I have served the King both by sea and by land, and I had been at sea if this restraint had not been made upon me. My conversacon I thank God none can tax." REGISTER.  "Will you take your oath?" HOWSE. "I am a young man and doe not know what the oath is." KINGS ADVOCATE. "The King desires your service in obeying his laws.” At his interrogation by a Court of High Commission on 8 May 1632 he 'I have served the King both by sea & by land, and I have been at sea if this restraint had not been made upon me. My conversation I thank God none can tax.'" Brave man or maybe just a little bit ADHD. In New England, Samuel appeared in court at least half a dozen times in civil suits, mostly pertaining to his carpentry work. He was a courageous Christian but not such a good carpenter.

Hannah and her siblings were children of John and Alice House. John House was  “of” Eastwell, Kent, England and pastor of the church there. John’s church being at nearby Edgerton, probably meet Hannah as the two pastors socialized or studied theology together. Certainly, the two John’s were of one mind as far as theology went or it may have been House’s influences that lead John on the road to theology rebellion against the Church of England.

 I imagine Hannah as a fair-haired young woman with a sweet nature whose lovely face attracted the young pastor as much as her devote love of God. I have no doubt that she was a woman who loved God with all of her heart. She came from a family with strong religious convictions and so why would she not share this trait, especially as her husband was of like mind. 
John House died in Eastwell 30 August 1630 and was buried in the churchyard on 8 Sept 1630. Whether his children remained in Eastwell until that time or came to London with John and Hannah Lathrop, I don’t know. I do know that at least Samuel and Penninah (also called Jeminah) eventually came to London to worship with their brother-in-law’s congregation.
Hannah must have been worried over her husband’s fate. She was probably well supported by his parishioners but they weren’t wealthy and she and her children probably suffered through many hungry and cold nights and days. She was caring for seven children, although the oldest, Thomas was a young man of about twenty. However, a son of a man in jail would have a hard time finding employment and Hannah, as a woman and mother, would find none at all.  Hannah’s health gave out and she died. Friends of the Lathrops tried to help as they could but the family was forced to beg for their bread in the streets of London. Some friends of the family were able to secure an audience with the bishop and present the poor hungry children to him. The bishop proved to be a man of some pity as he allowed Lathrop to be release from jail, on the condition that he leave England for the colonies thus solving two problems at once. John Lathrop was no longer a bother to the bishop and he could preserve his benevolent reputation.
A few ships of the Winthrop Fleet had preceeded John Lathrop and his family to New England. John Winthrop was one of the main instigaters of the fleet that brought thousands of Puritians to New England. Govenor Winthrop kept an extesive journal Under date of Sept 18, 1634, he wrote 'The Griffin and another ship now arriving with about 200 passengers. Mr. Lathrop and Mr. Sims, two godly ministers coming in the same ship...'"  Among the passengers who arrived with the Lathrop family were five other ancestors of mine: William and Anne Hutchinson and their son Edward and William and Mary Bartholomew.
John became the pastor of the First Church in Scituate shortly after arriving in New England. He left for Barnstable after a dispute split the church in 1639. Lathrop, considered one of the three most influencal pastors of early Massachusetts, pastored his flock so well that the original church at Scituate membership dwendled as perisionairs left to join the new church. Lathrop’s Congregational Church now claims one of the longest uninterrupted history of any in the former Brishish colonies. Church building, though enlarged and remodeled, is the original one that John Lathrop pastored.
The Reverent Lathrop was a man with a true heart for God. His church flurished because he understood that Christianity’s theology was big enough to encompus intellectuals and the uneducated as well. His faith, while wholely Christian, was open enough to realize that he didn’t have all the answers and that faith encompused a whole lot more then rules.  Historians have noted that he welcomed anyone who professed a faith in the Christian God and tried to follow the Ten Commandments. While he was a very intelligent man who studied theology to the end of his life, he was wise enough to preach sermons that would be relavent to the needs of his flock.
In the New World, John married his second wife, Anne  Hammond, the daughter of William Hammond and sister to Elizabeth Hammond who married John Lathrop’s brother-in-law, Samuel House. Anne was much younger then her husband and bore him six more children, four of whom lived to adulthood. After John’s death, she married Timothy Hawkins as her second husband.
John Lathrop died in 1653 near 69 years old. He was buried in an unmarked grave in the churchyard of the little church he founded. Years later a plaque was erected to this remarkable man. It gives his history and at the bottom of the plaque it remarks “He was a gentle kindly man and beloved of all who knew him.” 
I was at a genealogy fair once upon a time and found a pedigree chart with the Rev. John Lathrop’s name on it. Very excited at discovering one of my ancestors, I told the the person manning the table that I too was a descendant of John’s. He gave me a look that would have frozen a volcano and said “Every one with New England ancestory is descendanted from John Lathrop.” Well, I now know that isn’t true but it has been estimated that John’s American descendants number more then 80,000 persons. And among this descent are some pretty famous and infamous persons. They include Presidests of the United States; Millard Fillmore, James Garfield (another man of great faith), Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin D. Roosevelt, George H.W. Bush and his son George W. Bush (another man of faith). Several state governors of the 1900s and the early 2000s can also claim Lathrop as an ancestor: Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Thomas E. Dewey and of course, Jeb Bush (son of guess who). Other Lathrop descendants who were statesmen were Senator Adlai Stevenson, US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holms, Secretary of State John Allen Dulles (for whom the airport was named) and his brother Allen Dulles who was the head of the CIA. Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, artist Lewis Comfort Tiffany, author Laura Ingalls Wilder, and actors Clint Eastwood, Shirley Temple, Brook Shields, and Dina Merrill are all descendants of the Rev. Lathrop. And to throw in a little bad blood, there is the traitor Benidict Arnold and gunslinger Wild Bill Hickock.  And you can put great-grandson X 4 or 5 times, Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church, wherever you like.
Oh, and before I finish this piece, I also have a not so famous person to add to the list of John Lathrop descendance – my friend from high school, Cindy Walker, who is my 15 or something times first cousin through her 15X great-grandmother, Jane Lathrop Fuller, daughter of John Lathrop.
My Lathrop line:
John Lathrop m. Margaret Wade
Robert Lathrop d. 1558 m. Ellen Aston daughter of John Aston
Thomas Lathrop 1536-1606 m. Maud ? who died 6 June 1688
John Lathrop m. Hannah House daughter of the Rev. John House
Samuel Lathrop m. Elizabeth Scudder
Martha Lathrop m. John Moss
Esther Moss m. Daniel Maltby
Joseph Maltby m. Elizabeth Pratt
Jonathan Maltby m. Lydia Bartholomew
Josiah Maltby m. Mary McArthur
John Maltby m. Mahaly ?
Josiah Maltby m. Eliza Jane Miller
Caroline Bell Maltby m Otis T. Chubb


  1. If you were going to be so dismissive of the LDS church, at least you could have spelled MORMON right. I too descend from John Lathrop, and would never be dismissive of all the different religions his descendents must have embraced.

  2. John is my eight great grandfather. I enjoy these discussions.

  3. I am also a descendant of John Lanthrop. My father had told me growing up that
    He was a great grandfather of long ago. We are related through his eight son Benjamin Lanthrop. I have used Ancestry. Com and family records and names. Anyway. I would love to learn more.
    My email is if you could email me I would appreciate it.

  4. I am also a descendant of John Lathrop, related through his son Samuel. My mother's maiden name is Lathrop.
    PS - I believe you meant to write in your text that John Lathrop was born in 1584, not 1684; Elizabeth I died in 1607. You have the particulars correct at the beginning, though.