John Lathrop was born December 20, 1584 in Etton, Yorkshire, England. It is said the ancestral home of the Lathrop family is Lowthrope, England. He was baptized in Etton, Yorkshire England December 20, 1584 and died in Barnstable, Mass November 8, 1653.
The name was sometimes written Lathrop, other times Lothrop and originated in the town of Lowthrope, England. John Lathrop was born in Yorkshire England.
He first entered Christ Church College, Oxford in 1601 but transferred to the more liberal Queen’s College from which he graduated with a B.A. in 1605 and an M.A. in 1609. He moved to Edgerton, Kent, a town 48 miles southeast of London, where he was curate of the parish church. He left Edgerton in 1623 apparently due to a distaste for the Church of England and became the minister of the First Independent Church of London, a church whose religion was not the same as the king’s and thus illegal. On April 22, 1632 the church’s gathering was invaded by the authoroties and forty-two members were taken into custody and were held in the old Clink Prison in Newgate. His followers apparently lingered here for months and released. He, being considered too dangerous to the church remained in Prison. While he languished in prison, his wife died, and left behind numerous children who appealed to the Bishop at Lambeth for his release. He being briefly permitted to “commend her to God”, the Bishop granted him liberty, which appears to be limited, perhaps something akin to our contemporary “parole.” Suffice it to say, he, with reasonable haste repaired to New England. He arrived on the Ship Griffin, together with others of his “flock” Sept, 1634.
He received warm welcome, but later removed to Barnstable, due to differences with some of his people over baptism. He remained here for 14 years. He required no creeds, nor confessions of faith, believed that man is not responsible to fellow man in matters of faith and conscience, tolerated differences of opinion, and was, apparently, in all, an independent thinker who held opinions in advance of his times.
John Lathrop was made a freeman and took oath on March 7, 1636 in Scituate. On January 1, 1637 certain freemen of Scituate, including John Lathrop, complained to the Court that they were allotted such small portions of land that they could not subsist on them. The Court of Assistants granted them upland and a neck of land lying between The North and South Rivers provided upon the condition that they make a township there and inhabit the said land.
John moved with others in October 1639 and this became the town of Barnstable on Cape Cod. He was granted a four acre lot in this town upon which he built a small house. A larger house was built in 1644. After a dedicated, and apparently illustrious ministry, he died Barnstable, Nov 8. 1653.
Having rejected the state religion because he felt its teachings were contradictory to the Bible, Rev. John Lothropp (sometimes spelled Lothrop or Lathrop) became an independent preacher and was thus arrested, jailed, and finally released on conditions he leave the country. He did so, with 32 of his congregation.
The Reverend Lathrop was a Church of England minister. As he read the Bible carefully, he discovered that there was little harmony between the teachings of that denomination and the scriptures. Being a very conscientious man, he felt that he could not go contrary to the sacred word, so he resigned his position with the state church in 1623 and became the pastor of the First Independent Church of London. Wikipedia portrays him as a hero of ‘separation of church and state, but he, as did Thomas Jefferson, believed that the state should not dictate free thought on religion – not that the bible and/or prayer should be kept out of schools or government. In doing so he rejected the state religion and flew in the face of both government and clergy by setting up a separatist group. But he had the courage of his convictions, and he proceeded, regardless of the risks involved. By direction of the bishop of London, he was arrested and cast into prison. While he was thus incarcerated, his wife died. He was not so much as allowed to attend her funeral, and his children were left with no one to care for them. He made repeated appeals for clemency, but the bishop refused even to listen to him. Finally the orphaned children went to the bishop as a group and personally pleaded for mercy. So pitiful were they in their misery and dejection that the bishop was finally moved, and he released Lathrop on condition that he leave the country. This he did, and, with thirty-two members of his congregation, he went to America. (The Great Prologue, Mark E. Peterson)
Founder of Barnstable, Mass: John Lathrop and his followers initially settled in Scituate, Mass. But, their religious differences with the inhabitants caused them to look elsewhere to live. Although, some individuals lived in the area of Barnstable, Plymouth Co, Mass, the moving of John Lathrop and his followers to Barnstable is considered the founding of the town. He lived there until he died, in 1653.
“John Lothropp has been ranked as one of the four most prominent colonial ministers in America. His spiritual and political strength not only was emulated by his sons and daughters, but has been evidenced in the lives of thousands of his descendants in the past four centuries They include presidents of the United States, a prime minister of Canada, authors, financiers, politicians, and last but certainly not least, key leaders among religious groups throughout the centuries and spanning the continent. ” “Biography of John Lothrop (1584-1653)”, by Richard Price
Additional Resources: Sturgis Library
Biographical Novel. Story of an ancestor of President George W. Bush. Recreates the dark days of 17th century England when a man could be drawn and quartered alive for no more innocuous offense than standing on a corner and preaching his views. When John Lathrop immersed himself in the battle against tyranny, a battle which had already claimed the lives of countless non-conformists before him, he had little reason to believe that his efforts would result in anything except increasing hardship and trauma for himself and his family. A respected gentleman, scholar, husband, and father of five sons and three daughters, Lathrop was compelled to ask the question: Should he take a stand for freedom of conscience, even if it may cost his life and reduce his family to the most wretched conditions? A recurrent theme throughout the story is that one must not be neutral or indifferent in the face of despotism or unabated power wielded by puppets in government, for neutrality is the great sympathizer and nurturer of evil. John Lathrop is not only the direct forefather of President George W. Bush, he is the direct forefather of three other presidents, other major political figures, university presidents, churchmen, inventors, etc. Appendices in the book give a genealogical listing of prominent descendants, other historical facts and data leading up to the founding of America. Exiled, The Story of John Lathrop is not just another story. An encyclical letter written by Leo XIII in the 19th Century stated that when a nation starts to fail, its people need to be reminded of the principles and values upon which it was founded. That is essential if that nation is to be saved at all. While America’s youth are manifesting an unprecedented moral decline and an unequalled ignorance of the values which propelled their country to greatness, parents, educators, and patriots are desperately seeking ways to reverse these frightening trends. Exiled has the potential to put youth and people of all ages in touch with their roots and to awaken in them a consciousness of the important and noble principles that shaped the history of the founding of America. Exiled brings to life the intense drama that set the stage and framed American thought and history for generations.