Laurence Chaderton

This is an excerpt from an excellently written short biography on Laurence Chaderton, a Puritan who was not well-known, but should have been known for his role in the early days of reformation zeal. I have shorten this, as it was just published in the latest edition (June) of the Banner of Truth Magazine.

(May I encourage you to and subscribe to the electronic edition? It is dirt cheap. I got mine for RM70+ for 2 years! The electronic edition has more features in it, furthermore! Hint, go to the American site to subscribe, conversion to RM is much cheaper.)

Laurence Chaderton was born the son of Edmund Chaderton in the parish of Oldham, Lancashire, around the year 1536. The Chadertons were a wellto-do family of Catholic persuasion. Edmund was a most fervent papist and to ensure that Laurence followed in his footsteps he employed a priest to educate his son. The boy showed much promise, especially in Latin and Greek. He was sent to the Inns of Court in London to embark on the study of law. Soon after leaving home, Chaderton was first exposed to the evangelical faith, which he was shortly to adopt as his own. Upon this he abandoned all thought of a legal career, and in 1564 he was admitted to Christ’s College, Cambridge, for the study of divinity. His father did not respond well to these changes in his son. He ceased all further financial support for his studies and disinherited him.

Yet through divine providence Chaderton was able to continue his academic pursuits unabated. In addition to theology, he devoted himself to the study of Hebrew, quickly becoming proficient in that language. To elucidate the Old Testament text he enlisted the help of the traditional rabbinic commentaries (virtually the only aid to the study of the Hebrew text at the time), which he read in the original mediaeval Hebrew.

He graduated in 1567 and the following year was elected a fellow of the college. He engaged in tutoring. He was subsequently also appointed ‘lecturer’ (a Bible teacher) at St Clement’s Church in Cambridge. Here his weekly sermons earned him a reputation as a solid expositor of the Word of God. He also regularly journeyed into London where he preached at St Paul’s Cross and the Middle Temple.

On one occasion, when he had already spoken for two hours, he apologized for trying his congregation’s patience; but they called out, ‘For God’s sake, Sir, go on!’ Much to their satisfaction he went on for another hour! When, at the age of eighty-two, he decided it was time to retire from public preaching, to his amazement he received letters from forty other ministers of the Word urging him to continue, many of them attributing their own conversions to his ministry.

All the while he was serving as tutor and lecturer, Chaderton applied himself to on-going study. He was awarded the Master of Arts in 1571 and the Bachelor of Divinity in 1578. Much later in life, when in his seventies, he was created Doctor of Divinity.

Throughout his life Chaderton was a staunch advocate of Calvinistic orthodoxy. In 1576, he held a public disputation with Peter Baro, the Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, over the latter’s leanings towards Arminianism. According to witnesses, Chaderton advocated his position, not only with greater ability and with a greater demonstration of learning than his opponent, but also with a better temper. While firm in his own Calvinistic beliefs, Chaderton was moderate by nature. He was gracious towards those with whom he differed and could never be accused of extremism. Nor was his Christianity merely doctrinal or cerebral. One of his contemporaries commented, ‘How good a man Mr Chaderton is, who hath such a living affection to the poor, which is a certain token of a sound Christian.’ He commended practical acts of Christian piety, even shaming his hearers on one occasion by claiming that the good deeds of the Papists often put the Protestants to shame.

Moreover, as he conducted himself in public, so he was in private. His household servants testified of his personal godliness in the confines of his own home. He was anxious that they should attend public worship, and used to say, ‘I desire as much to have my servants to know the Lord, as myself.’


Get the June edition for the full article. But for me, the best part was that last paragraph on his own servants testimony on their master! What Christian testimony to have even the lowest of those in your household to acknowledge the Creator’s touch in your life!


One thought on “Laurence Chaderton

  1. ALOHA,

    Read your post, and just wanted to invite you over to check out mine. If you ever dreamed before this might intrest you.


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