But, the Lord being merciful unto me, howsoever I was notably
distract[ed] about external Church Government ; yet, as all my
printed books will testify, I kept me ever fast unto the main point
â€” that is, unto the foimdation of the Gk)spel I had before here
received, and had, in Lancashire, for some two years [1691 â€” 1693],
publicly ministered : being before, now some nine years since
, ordained fully thereto [t.c. took Prieg^s Orders] by Bishop
[William] Wickham, then Bishop of Lincoln. Antidoton; or a
sovereign Remedy agmrut Schiem and Heresy, pp. 1, 2, London,
Clapham dedicates his Sin against the HOLY GHOST,
Amsterdam, 1598, 4, "to his faithful Brethren, a poor
Remnant of the ever Visible Catholic and Apostolic Church,
Abraham Crottendinb, John Joope, Hugh Armourer,
Christopher Stmkins, Thomas Farrat, Abraham Wakefield,
One of these Brethren, John Joope, published at
Amsterdam, in 1599, The Description of a true Visible
Christian ; and, in the Preface, he tells us, that this Work is
Chapter III. of a book by the Rev. Henoch Clapham,
consisting of 26 Chapters : which book apparently was never
In October 1607, Clapham was made Vicar of Northboume
in Kent ; and held that Living till his death in 1614.
the ancient exiled ENGLISH CHURCH. 1597 â€” 1610.
So much of the history of this Community as concerns our
present Story will be found in the next Chapter.
THE scotch PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH. 1607 â€” THE PRESENT DAY.
On the 5th February 1607, the Rev. John Paget preached
his first Sermon at the Scotch Presbyterian Church in the
Begyn Ho^ Amsterdam ; of which Church he was Minister
till his death in 1636. Rev. William Steven. The HisUyry
lOO The British Churches in Amsterdam
of the Scottish Church, Rotterdam, With Notices of the other
British Churches in the Netherlands, pp. 273, 279, Edinburgh,
This Church has continued to the present tima
THE GAINSBOROUGH CHURCH. 1608 â€” 1609.
The history of this body, while united, in this city, will be
found in Chapter XL
THE SCROOBY CHURCH. 1608 â€” 1609.
The experiences of this Church at Amsterdam are
described by (Governor Bradford in Chapter XII.
MASTER THOMAS HELWYS'S COMPANY. 1609 â€” 1613.
In 1609, before the 12th March ; the Gainsborough
Church divided asunder : and the majority, headed by the
Rev. Thomas Helwys, drave out a minority of thirty-two
persons, headed by the Rev. John Smyth. See pp. 137, 140.
master JOHN SMYTH'S COMPANY. 1609 â€” 1615,
Some account of this Church, at the " Great Cake House,"
will be found at pp. 137-140.
THE REV. FRANCIS JOHNSON's CHURCH. 1610 â€” 1619.
On the 15/25 December 1610, the Ancient exiled Church
split into two sections. Those who adhered to the Rev.
Francis Johnson were called the Franciscans. Some notices
of this period of their career will be found at pp. 125, 126,
129, 130, 277-279, 290 : but not very much is known of it.
the REV. HENRY AINSWORTH'S CHURCH. 1610 â€” 1701.
The other section of the Ancient exiled Church survived
all the other English Separatist Communities in Amsterdam.
They were called the Ainsworthians until their Pastor's death
in the Spring of 1623. The Rev. John Canne the Elder was
afterwards their Minister. Their remnant were finally
absorbed in the Scotch Presbyterian Church above mentioned,
about the 10th April 1701.
The scandalous Ancient exiled English Church
AT Amsterdam 1695 â€” 1623.
In perils among false brethren. 2 Cor. xi. 26.
Religion is the best thing : and the corruption of it the worst Neither
hath greater mlechief and villainy "ever been found amongst men â€” Jews,
Gentiles, or Christiansâ€” than that which hath marched under the Flag of
Religion ; either [Religion] intended by the seduced, or pretended by
hypocrites. Rev. John Robinson, Obiervatums Divine and Morale p. 40,
Ed. 1625, 4.
^E are now come to the most painful part of this
book â€” the scandalous proceedings in the Ancient
exiled English Church at Amsterdam. That
Community consisted of knaves and dupes.
Doubtless many of the latter were well-intentioned Christians ;
though greatly misled. Of course, we must speak of this
Church as a whole.
We shall not dwell upon this disagreeable subject here
longer than is absolutely necessary : but will rather refer to
the authorities where the fuller details will be found. It is
not an actual part of the Pilgrim Story : but yet the Scrooby
Church sojourned amongst them (though they were not of
them) for a year or so.
These scandals, the ''some other reasons'' of Gtoyemor
Bradford, were the cause that constrained the Pilgrims to
uproot themselves for a second time ; and that at cmy cost, in
their pursuit not only of peace, but also of moral purity. In a
large commercial city like Amsterdam, there were many more
possible ways of getting a living than in a smaller University
town like Leyden. If they had sought peace only, they
I02 The Ancient Church at Amsterdam.
might easily have formed a Third exiled English Church at
Amsterdam;, and still kept to their livelihoods in that city,
a very important matter. But, once more, they threw up
everything for principle ; and migrated to Leyden to avoid not
simply the quarrels in the Ancient Church: but also, we
think, the moral pollution that was rampant in it. Surely,
never did men more strenuously strive to do what they
thought to be right, and that in the most peaceable possible
way, than did the Pilgrim Church.
The history of this ancient Reformist Church at Amster-
dam is one of the saddest chapters in the annals of Protest-
antism. It was established upon what were then considered
to be the newest principles. It was based solely upon the
rational study of the Scriptures. It was to be an object
lesson to the whole World of what the Christian Church of
th^ Future, in all its purity holiness and usefulness, was to
be. Especially was it to be a most vigorous protest against
the Church at home. It was the most notable English
Christian Community on the Continent, that was completely
organised on the lines of the "Holy Discipline." Whereas
the other Separatist Churches abroad, the Pilgrim Church
alone excepted, usually vanished away in a few years ; this
Ancient one actually subsisted unbroken for thirteen years
' Tet, notwithstanding all this, the history of this Society
, is nothing but a tissue of folly, wrongheadedness, and violence ;
of hypocrisy, wrangling, and immorality : so that its members
became quite odious to the inhabitants of Amsterdam.
The Ancient Church at Amsterdam. 103
The bablt days of the Ancient English Church.
^HE Ancient Church began with its first Pastor,
the Rev. Francis Johkson ; of whom (Jovemor
Bradford gives the following remarkable
account. One might almost say, That such
sudden conversions, either to good or to evil, were
characteristic of that Age.
Doctor [William] Ambs was estranged from, and opposed
Master Robinson *i and yet afterwards there was loving
compliance and near agreement between them.
And, which is more strange, Master [Francis] Johnson himself ,
who was afterwards Pastor of the Church of GOD at Amsterdam,
was a Preacher to the Company of the English [Merchants] of the
Staple at Middelburg in Zealand ; and had great and certain
maintenance (Â£200 per annwnC) allowed him by them, and was
highly respected by them.
And [he] was so zealous against this Way as that [when] Master
Barrow and Master Greenwood's \A 'plain\ Refutation of Master
OirpoRE^s hooky intitvled A short Treatise against the Donatists of
England] was privately in printing in this city, he not only was a
means to discover it ; but was made the [English] Ambassador's
Instrument to intercept them at the press, and see them burnt.
The which charge he did so well perform, as he let them go on
until they were wholly finished ; and then surprised the whole
impression, not suffering any to escape : and then, by the
Magistrate's authority, caused them all to be openly burnt ; [he]
himself standing by, until they were all consumed to ashes. Only
he took up two of them : one to keep in his own study, that he
* The oomitpondenoe between them, before 1612, will be found at pp.
47-54 of The profame Sehum So. The Rev. John Robinson, in the
Prrface to his Mdigious Communion of 1614, writes ''Now as I neither
am, nor would be thought^ insensible of this unchristian enmity," in
publishing " certain private letters passing between him and me, about
private communion [joining in private worthip, as in Prayer Meetings]
betwixt the members of the true Visible Church and others."
I04 The Ancient Church at Amsterdam.
might see their errors ; and the other to bestow on a special friend,
for the like use.
But mark the sequeL When he had done this work, he went
home : and being set down in his study, he began to turn over
some pages of this book, and superficially to read some things here
and there, as his fancy led him. At length, he met with something
that began to work upon his spirit ; which so wrought with him as
[it] drew him to this resolution, seriously to read over the whole
book: the which he did once and again.
In the end, he was so taken, and his conscience was troubled so,
as he could have no rest in himself until he crossed the seas, and
came to London, to confer with the Authors [? in the mmmer of
1592] ; who were then in prison, and [were] shortly after executed
[6th April 1593].
After which conference, he was so satisfied and confirmed in the
truth, as he never returned to his place any more at Middelburg ;
but adjoined himself to their Society in London [of which he was
elected the Pastor in September 1592] : and was afterwards [on 5th
December 1592] committed to prison [tn the Clink Prison\ ; and
then [in 1597] banished.
And, in conclusion, coming to live at Amsterdam, he caused the
same books, which he had been an Instrument to b\im, to be new
printed and set out [in 1605], at his own charge.
And some of us here present testify this to be a true Belation ;
which we heard from his own mouth, before many witnesses.
A very grave man he was, and an able teacher : and was the
most solemn, in all his administrations, that we have seen any ;
and especially in dispensing the Seals of the Covenant, both
Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
A good disputant he was. We heard Master [John] Smtth,
upon occasion, say, That he was persuaded no men living were able
to maintain a Cause against those two men, meaning Master
Johnson and Master Ainsworth, if they had not the truth on
He â€” ^by reason of many dissensions that fell out in the Church ;
and the subtilty of [Daniel Studlrt,] one of the [Ruling] Elders
of the same â€” came, after many years [, in 1609], to alter his
judgement about the (Government of the Church, and his
practice thereupon : which caused a division among them [on
15/25 December 1610],
The Ancient Church at Amsterdam. 105
But he lived not many years after ; and died at Amsterdam [in
January 1618], after his return from Emden. Fvr$t Dwlogue <tc.
[Written in 1648.] Printed in A. Yoxjnq's Chronides of the Pilgrim
Fathers, pp. 423-426, 445, 1841, 8.
Here then, we think that Ooyemor Bradford is perfectly
untrustworthy in his charitable estimate oi character. It is
true that he does not say very much in his favour ; but the
general impression of it all is that Johnson was a Saint:
whereas, in this book, he is abundantly proved to be a most
remarkable Sinner. He was an arrogant, wrongheaded,
irascible man ; an unnatural son, ^. : anything, in fact, but
a Christian Gentleman. In addition to which, and apart
from all personal failings ; he was the responsible head of a
Society which became an abomination to the citizens of
Johnson's character was therefore inconsistent: having
some good points ; but many more bad ones.
Harleian MS. 7042 consists of the Baker Transcripts
from the Manuscripts (now lost) of the Lord Keeper of
the Great Seal, Sir John Puckerinq; who died on 30th
From these Transcripts we learn (, fols. 30, 60, 61, 63) that
the A^ncient Church was constituted, in September 1592, at
the house of one Fox in Nicholas lane, London, with the
following Officers :
Pastor. Francis Johnson.
Teacher. John Greenwood. [Hanged on 6th
Biding Elders. Daniel Studlby and Georob EInivbton.
Prophets. [Not stated.]
Dea^xms. Christopher Bowman and Nicholas
Widotos or Deaconesses. [? None.]
This is further confirmed by the following passage from
page 429 of A Sv/rvey of the pretended " Holy Discipline^**
io6 The Ancient Church at Amsterdam.
anonymously written by Richard Bancroft, then Bishop
of London ; and published in London, in 1593, in quarto.
One Collins, a man amongst them, not unlearned as it seemeth,
doth write in thi^ sort hereof : " Fcclesia potenti efus dextra adjuta
dtc. 'The Church, assisted with the mighty hand of GOD' hath
chosen Ministers. Master Johnson for her Pastor ; Master
Qrbenwood for her Doctor; Master Studlbt and Master
Gborgb Knifb[ton, or Knitibton], for Elders; Nicholas Lee
and Christopher Bowman for her Deacons.
"The other Assembly also (whereunto are added John Nicholas,
Thomas Michell, John Barnes, and some others, with me) with
GODs assistance, will begin, out of hand, to create unto itself
So there were two Groups of Separatists in London in
Harleian MS. 7042 contains the Answers to a number of
Interrogatories put to these men, on or about 2/12 or 4/14
April 1593 ; in which are the following descriptions.
Francis Johnson, a Minister, of the age of 31 years; of
George Johnson, late Schoolmaster in St Nicholas lane,
London, bom in Richmondshire in the county of York, of the
age of 29 years. He was taken in an assembly of people in a
wood beyond Islington.
George Knivbton, of Newgate Market, an Apothecary, of
the age of years. He was made Elder half a year ago \jLe. in
Christqpher Bowman, a Goldsmith, doth dwell in West
Smithfield, of the age of 32 years. Was chosen a Deacon in
September last He was imprisoned five years past [in 1588], for
putting up a Petition to the Queen's Majesty ; and continued in
prison four years [1588â€”1692] for the same. He was married in
John Penrt's house. Edward Settle [the Separatist Pastor hefore
Johnson] did pray ; and John Greenwood was present.
Edward Boys, a Haberdasher, dwelling in Fleet street^ of the
age of 33 years.
All this Church organization was a flat defiance of the
The Ancient Church at Amsterdam. 107
On 5/15 December 1592, Francis Johnson and John
Gbbbnwood were arrested at Edward Bots's house.
On 4/14 March 1592/1593, fifty-six, including Oborgb
Johnson, were arrested in the wood beyond Islington.
The Bishops kept the leaders in prison : Edward Settle,
in the Qate House; Francis Johnson, in the Clink; George
Johnson, in the Fleet; Daniel Studley, in Newgate, &c.
The rest of the Church gradually emigrated, in 1593-4, to
Holland : at first, to Kampen ; then, to Naarden ; and finally,
by 1595, to Amsterdam.
About September 1594, Francis Johnson married
Thomasine Boys, the well-to-do Widow of the above
mentioned Edward Boys, the Haberdasher: and thereby
commenced the Old Clothes Controversy which is described
in the next Chapter.
On 25 March /4 April 1597, the Privy Council of
England directed that Francis Johnson and Daniel Studley
should be put on board the HopeweU ; and George Johnson
and John Clarke put on board the ChanceweU, These two
vessels formed a fruitless Expedition to Rainea [The Magdalen
Ides^ in the Gvlf of St Lawrence], [R. Hakluyt,
Voyages Ac, iii. 242-249, Ed. 1810, 4.], and left Gravesend
on Friday 8/18 April 1597. The Ch(mcetvell was wrecked
on the 23 June /3 July following: and the Hopewell was
back in the British Channel on 1/11 September next.
Landing at Southampton, the four Separatists stole over
to Amsterdam : where the Ancient Church was reconstituted
with the following Officers, about September 1597.
Pastor. Francis Johnson.
Teacher. Henry Ainsworth.
Ruling Elders, Daniel Studley, George EIniveton, and
Master Slade. [Later on, there was
also Jean de l'Eclusb.]
io8 The Ancient Church at Amsterdam.
Prop?iet8. Thomas Cocky. Jacob Johnson.
Deacon, Christopher Bowman.
Widow or [Governor Bradford describes this
Deaconess. "ancient widow" at page 172; but
does not tell us her name.]
^HE first idea of the Separatist Churches seems to
have been that â€” in order to maintain the
requisite high standard of purity of lifeâ€” there
should be a perpetual scrutiny of each other's
faults : so that every one was to be a spy on all the rest,
and to be ever bringing them to book. What a base
conception of the Christian life !
Robert Browne's Church, in 1582 â€” 1583, was greatly
afflicted in this way ; so that existence there became a positive
The same conception marked the early days, at least, of the
Ancient exiled English Church : so that there has come down
to us, a most wonderful literary monument of this vulgar
nagging spirit, in the following Work.
A Discourse of some Troubles and Excommunications in the
banished English Church at Amsterdam.
Printed at Amsterdam. 1603, 4.
This book is printed in Dutch black letter; and breaks off
abruptly at page 214 ; through the death in prison of the Author.
It was strenuously hunted for, for above sixty years together ;
but in vain : so that it was quite given up for a lost book.
However, in 1872, Doctor H. Marttn Dexter, with the kind
help of Mr William Aldis Wright, then Librarian, now Vice-
Master, of Trinity College, Cambridge, after a long seaixsh, found
a copy in that College Library. Press-mark, C. 4, 53.
The Ancient Church at Amsterdam, 109
This jear, 1896, we have found another copy in the Library of
Sion College, London. Press-mark, A. 69, 3.
These are the only two copies at present known.
The Bev. Francis Johnson, about September 1594,
married, in the Clink Prison, a well-to-do Widow, Mistress
Thomasinb Bots, the relict of Edward Boys the Haberdasher
in fleet Street above referred to. She was fond, as a
haberdasher's Widow might well be, of being well dressed ;
the cost of which, be it noted, she paid for oat of her own
Then Georob Johnson made war upon her ; hurling texts
of Scripture at his brother and her, as opportunity offered.
One sees in his conduct the pitiful meanness and vulgarity of
the rigid Separation.
Then Francis Johnson and Daniel Studlby made war
upon him : and the Story gets interesting in watching their
methods in dealing with him; to see how the "Holy
Discipline " would act in real ;life. They offered to make him
an Elder, if he would only be quiet : but pragmatical George
stood firm for the principle of being disagreeable upon
principle. So this fatuous Much ado about Nothing finally
ends in Francis Johnson delivering his brother George over
to Satan, about the year 1599.
George retaliates by publishing the Story in this
unfinished Discourse^ in 1603 ; being at that time in Durham
prison, where he died : thereby showing up this Old Clothes
Controversy, as Doctor Dexter calls it ; and the perversity
and narrow-mindedness of all concerned in it.
It seems to us that George Johnson richly deserved to
be cast out of a Society in which he had deliberately made
himself intolerably offensive: but that his brother Francis
committed an error in policy, in going so far as publidy to
excommunicate his own brother. Some other way should
have been found.
But while Francis may, to some extent^ be excused for
I lo The Ancient Church at Amsterdam.
his action towards his lNX)ther in 1599 ; his treatment of his
father in 1602 seems to be perfectly unpardonable.
The Pastor seems to have been steadily going from bad to
worse in that interval.
September â€” October 1602.
[ Â£ have seen, at page 106, that Gboroe Johkson
was bom in Richmondshire, that is, the North
Riding of Yorkshire. It was probably from
there, that his father, John Johnson, a
septuagenarian, came to Amsterdam to make peace, about
Francis Johnson, now a thoroughly bad man, treated
his father ; and suffered him to be treated by his Church,
with scorn and derision. Finally, though his father did not
belong to his Community, he had the amazing impudence to
deliver him over to Satan.
Christopher Lawne says
This Censure was done so violently and cruelly that no advice,
counsel, no nor threats, of the Dutch Church [whose Latin
Declaration of 29 October /8 November 1602, he prints] might
restrain, or stay, the rage of Master Francis.
In that Master Francis did continue and persist obstinately
unto the death of his father ; without revocation of his error, or
reconciliation to his father ; sending his father down to the grave
with this curse upon his back ... in all this, he hath filled [up]
the measure of his iniquity. The profaTie Schism dtc, p. 61.
Perhaps, in all literature, there does hot exist a more
crushing rebuke to a bad son than the following paper by
John Johnson. It is written with a studied moderation.
Son. You asked me also^ in the presence of Master Studlet,
Whei-ein you were unnatural ?
The Ancient Church at Amsterdam. 1 1 1
I answer you, By these things following ; /ou urging me thereto :
1. That I coming, in mj old age, so far, so hard and
dangerous, a journey, to seek and make peace between you, the
Church, and your brother : I could never see the least inclination
in you to peacei Neither tendered you my old age ; but so used
me as, if GOD strengthened not me, you might presently bring my
gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.
2. Lodging in your house, the firat week ; you were so far from
peace, and so unkindly used me, that you made me weary before
the week was ended : so was I forced to shift to my other son's
[? Jacob JomraoN] lodging.
3. When I dealt with you for peace : you sought to catch and
ensnare me in my words ; and afterward, as I perceived, also
seduced the Elders and the people to the like dealing.
4. You upbraided me with things secret between me and my
child in the country [Oeobqe Johnsoit] ; which were untrue : and
if they had been true, you ought not to disgrace me as Ham did.
Genesis ix. You did worse than he did : but, GOD have praise !
they were not true. Yet your unnatural and unchristian dealing
appeared herein: both in upbraiding me untruly and imjustly;
and, if it had been true, so to do, it is as to vex and disgrace me.
5. To let me stand two hours on my feet before you and the
people ; and yourself sat all the time : and not once bid me sit
down yourself; neither spake to the people to bid me.
6. Not once, in the space of six weeks, did you come to visit
me, or ask how I did : being in the same city with you ; and having
come so far for your peace.
7. You denied to give me your hand [signature] unto that,
which before you had granted to others.
8. You would not trust my word; but forced me to
9. These, and such like things, made me call to mind your
unnaturalness that, in the space of five years [1597â€”1602] and
more, you had not wiitten to me. That you were desirous to see
my face ; or That I should be welcome to you, when I wrote to you
of my purpose in coming. So little thankfulness and Nature Imve
you shewed unto me, for all my care and pains for you, from your
youth : and, I fear, your example will make many fathers, if they
be not upright-minded, to hold their children from learning, and
studying in the Universities.
112 The Ancient Church at Amsterdam.
10. You heard me scoffed and gibed hj divers in the
Congregation, and not once rebnked them : which many children
not professing godliness, but led only bj Nature, would not have
indured to hear against their father.
11. But, no wonder ! For, at length, you became so hardened
that you sat as principal ; and heard yotir father excommunicated :
being come to be a peace-maker. Hath the like unnaturalness
been read, or heard of ?
12. Coming afterward to you, and talking with you : you said,