Thursday, October 4, 2007

John Knox, The Divine

The Reformation Wall in Geneva, Switzerland. From left: William Farel, John Calvin, Theodore Beza and John Knox.
In an earlier piece, I wrote about how I had discovered that Boykin Witherspoon, the slaveowner of my Pressley, Brayboy, Jefferson and Morris lines was a direct descendant of John Knox of Scotland.
Please recall that his lineage in that line is as follows:
Boykin Witherspoon
John Dick Witherspoon
Gavin Witherspoon II
Gavin Witherspoon I
John Witherspoon wife was *Janet Witherspoon, his 1st cousin,
David Witherspoon
Lucy Welsh (Married a Witherspoon)
Elizabeth Knox (Lucy's mother) Her husband was John Welsh
John Knox (The Divine) born 1514 married Margaret Stewart
Recall that his lineage from this line is as follows:

Here is a little more information about John Knox.

John Knox was born a peasant in Scotland around 1514 and died on November 24, 1572. Although his early life began very humbly he will be long remembered as one of Scotland's most renowned clergymen, leader of the Protestant Reformation and founder of the Church of Scotland.

He was educated at the University of St. Andrews and was greatly influenced by early reformers such as Patrick Hamilton and George Wishart.

Over the years, his life took many twists and turns including being captured and taken prisoner by the French, and exiled to England and Switzerland. The Protestant nobles were sent to France including Knox were taken prisoner and forced to row in the French galleys. The galley-slaves were chained to benches and rowed throughout the day without a change of posture while an officer watched over them with a whip in hand. They sailed to France and navigated up the Seine to Rouen and were transferred to various prisons.

Included in his accomplishments is when he became licenced to work in the Church of England where he quickly rose in the ranks until he became a royal chaplain serving the King of England, King Edward VI. This title enabled him to gain the trust of English Protestants thus allowing his influence and contribution to the text of the Book of Common Prayer.

Unfortunately, he was forced to resign his position when Mary Tudor ascended the throne. While in England, he met and married his first wife, Marjorie, of English noble origin.
John Knox later had the misfortune to lose his much-loved and helpful young wife. She left two sons, one of whom, Nathanael, died at Cambridge in 1580; the other, Eleazer, became vicar of Clacton Magna in the archdeaconry of Colchester and died in 1591.

Knox later fled to Geneva Switzerland where he gained experience and knowledge from John Calvin in regards to theology church polity. While based in Geneva, he made a short excursion to Frankfurt, Germany where he headed the English refugee church and a first attempt to return to Scotland where he was able to meet and to support the Scottish Protestants.

Upon his final return to Scotland, he took the religious lead in the Protestant Reformation in Scotland, assisted by the Scottish Protestant nobility which resulted in the ousting of queen regent Mary of Guise. He participated in writing the Confession of Faith and the ecclesiastical order for the newly created reformed church. He continued to serve as the religious leader during the reign of Mary Stuart, queen of Scots whose support of the Catholic Church he admononished in interviews with the queen and eventually openly attacked her in sermons during which she was imprisoned and she was succeeded by James VI.
On 26 March 1564, Knox stirred controversy again, when he married Margaret Stewart, the daughter of an old friend of his, Andrew Stewart, a member of the Stuart family and a distant relation to the queen of scots, Mary Stuart and Boykin Witherspoon's grandmother. Knox was at the time, a widower of fifty, while the bride, Margaret, was not yet seventeen. They had three daughters, Martha, Margaret, and the youngest, Elizabeth who became the wife of John Welsh, a minister of the Kirk and gggggg-grandparents of Boykin Witherpoon. John Welsh was himself at one time also imprisoned for his preaching on the orders of King James VI of Scotland and in 1606 exiled to France where continued his activities for many years. His grandson was the Covenanter' leader, John Welsh of Irongray.
Wow, what a remarkable family history Boykin Witherpsoon had! Descendent of John Knox and cousin to Mary Queen of Scots among others. And now knowing all of this and his ancestral history of slavery, intolerance and persecution, it strikes me strange that Boykin himself would have slaves but life can be strange and such is the life of men but then again Boykin was born 300 years after John and I don't think most of us can't honestly say with any certainty that we have any of the characteristics or traits of our distant grandparents. While many family values are passed on throughout the generations, I think ultimately we are all accountable for our own actions and it is up to each of us individually to determine right from wrong and choose which route we want to go.
I must say that I am very intrigued with the often tumultuous life that John Knox led. I have much respect and admiration for way he put his life on the line in order to stand up for what he beleived in. The passion and conviction that he showed for his Protestant faith even in the face of exile and of death is commendable.
His life and determination to serve God brings to mind 2 scriptures:
Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Rest in peace, John Knox.

1 comment:

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