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THE FOUNDATION OF THE STRANGERS' CHURCH IN LONDON IN 1550, WITH SOME REMARKS UPON
ITS EARLIER TITLE. The accompanying illustration, kindly presented by Mr. W. Jerdone Braikenridge, Fellow of the Society, is taken from a large contemporary oil-painting (measuring 6ft. by 4ft. 6in.) in his possession, representing Edward VI. granting letters patent dated July 24, 1550, for the foundation of the Strangers' Church in London, of which the celebrated John A Lasco was made Superintendent. The King and A Lasco, with the Duke of Somerset, the Protector, form the central group; on the spectator's extreme left is Archbishop Cranmer, on the extreme right is Bishop Latimer, next to whom stands Bishop Ridley. The remaining portraits are not identified. .
. The inscription on the letters patent held by A Lasco has been added at a much later date than that of the painting itself.
John A Lasco was a Polish nobleman born about the year 1499. As the fruit possibly of his intercourse with Guillaume Farel, Erasmus, and other giants of the early days of the Reformation, whom he met during the course of two visits paid to Bâle in 1524 and 1525, he left the Roman Catholic church in 1538, though offered the vacant Bishopric of Cujavia. This involved, too, his departure from his native land. After many wanderings he eventually, in 1543, became pastor of the reformed church of Embden in East Friesland. In 1548, on the invitation of Archbishop Cranmer, he came to England, where he stayed for nearly eight months until March 1549. On May 13, 1550, he came here again, but was forced to leave on the accession of Queen Mary? His death took place in Poland on January 8, 15602. See Proceedings Vol. iii, p. 585.
The foregoing remarks are taken from the Rev. Maurice J. Evans's translation from the German of Dr. Herman Dalton's account of the earlier years of A Lasco's life.
le fan a laxe
EDWARD VI. AND JOHN A LASCO.
FROM AN OIL-PAINTING IN THE POSSESSION OF W. JERDONE BRAIKENRIDE, ESQ.
The original letters patent with the great seal appendant here represented in the hands of A Lasco still exist in the archives of the Dutch church of Austinfriars; and at the Public Record Office is the enrolment on the Patent Roll for the year and also the Privy Seal which preceded it. The original, which is in abbreviated Latin, is printed with the contracted words written out at full length in Joannis A Lasco Opera' edited by A. Kuyper, and published at Amsterdam and the Hague, in 1866, and will also appear in the forthcoming volume of the archives of the Austinfriars church now being edited by Dr. J. H. Hessel. The enrolment is printed, also in extenso, in Burn's Foreign Protestant Refugees.
Of the earliest official title for the church there can be no question as it was fixed by these letters patent to be · Templum Domini Jesu,' while the congregation was styled 'congregatio et conventus Germanorum aliorumque peregrinorum. It seems highly probable that the usual English name for it was, from the commencement, the Dutch Church,' but this designation would then include Germans, and of the exact proportions of the various nationalities composing the church we as yet know very little.
The French-speaking part of the congregation had separate services in their own tongue very soon after the foundation.3 Of the Italians and Spaniards nothing much is yet known. The other nationalities forming the original church, who were the predecessors of the congregation still meeting at Austinfriars, do not seem to have acquired the title of ' Ecclesia Belgica,' that is, the Dutch Church in the modern signification, until the early part of the reign of Elizabeth, as will be seen by the following notes.
1 Vol. ii, p. 279.
3 The letters patent were dated July 24, 1550, and on October 16, in the same year, the French obtained a lease for the term of 21 years of the church of St. Anthony's Hospital in Threadneedle Street from the Dean and Canons of Windsor, (Burn's Foreign Protestant Refugees, p. 24.) The Austinfriars church does not appear to have come into the possession of the Dutch or Germans until December 12, on which day A Lasco wrote to Hardenberg
Nobis jam hodie datum est reipsa templum hactenus promissum, ut illud habeamus, possideamus, et gubernemus ·
Aliud templum habent Galli, in eodem nobiscum ministerio. Et jam habent ministros cum ministerio ipso. Nos egemus ministro et hactenus expectavimus aliquos e nostris.' (Joannis A Lasco Opera, Vol. ii, p. 644.) Baron Fernand de Schickler, however, says that the latter congregation were allowed the use of another church while that of the Austinfriars was being repaired and put in order for their services, and that “Micronius commença ses prédications le 21 Septembre.' (Les Eglises du Refuge en Angleterre, Vol. i, p. 23.)
As has already been pointed out in our Proceedingsl though the grant was the authority for establishing the congregations of the Dutch and French in London, neither of these nationalities are mentioned in it, and it was made to the ‘multi Germanæ nationis homines ac alii peregrini .... ex Germania et aliis remotioribus partibus in quibus Papatus dominatur.' It is true that the Dutch might perhaps have been considered by the scribe to be included in the term 'Germania’; on the other hand, Mr. Page's Denizations just issued by the Society shows how great was the influx from the middle countries of the Empire towards the end of the reign of Henry VIII., while the chief immigration from the Netherlands did not take place until the reign of Elizabeth. Besides, there is the following note in the diary of Edward VI.—29th June. It was appointed that the Germans should have the Austin Friars for their church to have their service in, for avoiding of all sects of Anabaptists and such like?'.
On July 19, five days before the issue of the grant by Edward VI., A Lasco wrote to the Duke of Prussia3_ Ecclesiam impetravimus.
Peragentur sacra omnia lingua Germanica et Gallica, quod hæ nationes sunt hic frequentissimæ, quibus alii quoque adjungere se potuerunt. Again, A Lasco, in workst appearing in Latin) between the years 1551 and 1555 styles the church "Peregrinorum Ecclesia, and Germanorum Ecclesia,' and where there is a Dutch or Flemish version of a publication he refers to it as 'de Duytsche (i.e. German) Ghemeynte.' Whether these publications in Dutch would be intelligible to the people of the Duchy of Cleves, the Archbishopric of Cologne, and the neighbouring parts of the Empire, whence many of the London strangers came, must be left for linguists to determine. If not, in spite of the titles bestowed upon the church by A Lasco, its congregation must have been mainly composed of Netherlanders who used the ' lingua Germaniæ İnferioris.'
It is undoubtedly Dutch or the tongue of the Netherlands which is meant in the following reference to Edward VI, occurring in a petition, dated Nov. 10, 1553, addresed to the King of Denmark after the closing of the church by Queen Mary :
-Constituerat nimirum Rex ille Ecclesiarum nostrarum ministros, qui lingua Germania Inferioris, Gallica item atque Italica ecclesiastico ministerio publice fungerentur.5 On the 1 Vol. iii, p. 347. 2 Burn's Foreign Protestant Refugees, p. 186. 3 Joannis A Lasco Opera, ed. Kuyper, Vol. ii, p. 643. * Ibid., passim. • Ibid., Vol. ii, p. 680.