John Elliston

John Elliston was a most diligent and pious minister, beneficed at Preston in Northamptonshire, where he laboured much to reform his parish, by frequent preaching and catechizing. But he endured manifold troubles for his nonconformity. His enemies being inclined to popery, brought complaints against him to the chancellor of Peterborough, that he did not wear the surplice, read the litany, nor use the cross in baptism. He was, therefore, indicted at the assizes ; but after his case was heard before the judge, he was dismissed. Mr. Elliston having left an account of his various troubles, let us hear him speak for himself.

" Having been pastor of Preston," says he, " about ten weeks, and being desirous to instruct the people according to my ability, some of my parishioners, persons much inclined towards popery, complained of me to Dr. Ellis, the chancellor, and the case was heard before the judge at the assizes, when I was charged with not wearing the surplice, not reading the litany, and not using the cross in baptism; but was acquitted and dismissed. After this, they exhibited a charge against me to Dr. Scambler, bishop of Peterborough, consisting of sixteen articles. Upon my appearance before the bishop, February 10, 1584, he asked me whether I would subscribe; but when I refused, he treated me with much abusive language,.

" The first article charged against me, was, that I did not wear the surplice.—I said, I did not refuse it, and so denied the charge.

« MS. Register, p. 832—834.

" The second article was, that I did not use the cross in baptism. And when the bishop asked me why I did not, I replied, that I did not use it, because it was not required in the word of God. At this he scoffed, saying, neither is it required what kind of boots you shall wear. I replied, that my boots were not offensive, and what kind I shall wear is at my discretion, and therefore lawful; but God hath set down the holy sacraments in his word, and not left the ordering to our discretion. He then abused me as before.

" In the next place, when he asked me why I catechized all persons, both old and young, I replied, that 1 had the charge of all, and must, therefore, instruct all. When he said that old people should not be catechized, and that they did not stand in need of it, I desired him to promote, and not to hinder good things.

" Another charge was, that I omitted the litany on sabbath days. When I replied, that I preached on sabbath days, he said, that whether I preached or not, the litany must be read. When he asked why I kept persons from the communion, I answered, because they would not submit to be examined, fie then said, that I should admit them, if they could say the Lord's prayer and ten commandments.

" There were many other articles charged against me," says Mr. Elliston, " to each of which I answered as the occasion served. At my departure, he suspended me, saying, I should not remain in his diocese if I would not subscribe. I said, if I do not remain in your diocese, the earth is the Lord's, and he hath a place for me to live in; and so I departed.

" March 6th following, he cited me, and several other ministers, to appear before him, and required us to subscribe. And May 30th he cited me a third time; but not having sufficient warning, he deprived me before I could appear before him. I, therefore, appealed against his unjust sentence, and told him that he did not deal with me with uprightness, though I wished to discharge my duties with a good conscience; and that he treated others with great kindness, if they would only subscribe, though they had neither learning nor honesty. But if you go about to discredit us, you will gain no credit to yourself. After this I had four journies to Peterborough; and though it was at least thirty-six miles from the place where I lived, I went seven times in little more than one year.

" April 6th I went to London for an inhibition ; and upon my return, I went again to Peterborough, to have it served on the bishop. And on ascension-day, Archbishop Whitgift cited me to appear before him, who, by this means, sought to prevent me from prosecuting my appeal. When I appeared before the archbishop, he urged me to subscribe, but I refused. He then said, he had matter against me in the high commission; and I was therefore examined, but obtained leave to return home till the next term. But before the next term, the archbishop sent his pursuivant for me. This was my third journey to London.

" When I appeared before, his grace, two articles were brought against me. J. 'That at morning prayer on Whit-sunday, I did only read two psalms and two chapters, and then preached. And, 2. That preaching out of the second psalm, and railing against my enemies, I affirmed, that they would all be damned, who troubled me.' But when they heard my answers to those articles, I was dismissed; though the fees of the pursuivant, and other expenses, were very considerable. After this I was called up to London several times, and appeared sometimes before the Archbishop, and sometimes before the Bishop of London.

" These my troubles," says the good man, " endured almost three years, during which time, I had ten journies to London, seven to Peterborough, many to Leicester and Northampton, and one to Cambridge."* By the expense unavoidably attending so many journies, Mr. Elliston was almost ruined. He was also a long time deprived of his living. He was a zealous and peaceable nonconformist, and, in the year 1587, was a member in the classis at Daventry, and often attended the associations of the puritans, A minister of the same name was preferred to the rectory of Chignal-Smeby in Essex, in the year 1597, but resigned it by death previous to September 20, 1617; when the next incumbent entered upon the benefice. We are not able to learn whether this was the same person.t