Family Lessons 61: Son of a Non-Preacher Man

My 12x great-grandfather, Rev John Cragge (born around 1570) was the minister of Wyresdale Chapel from 1606 till 1630. Technically, he was a ‘perpetual curate’, which meant the Vicar of Lancaster could pay him a smaller wage, whilst keeping the bulk of the area’s tithes.

In a document called the Kenyon Manuscript, he is described as ‘Minister at Wyresdale but noe preacher’. Was he some idle leech, living off others’ labour while offering nothing in return? Many pre-civil war clergy were such hirelings, until the Parliament’s Triers and Ejectors tuned them out of office. Alternatively, he might have been incapable of stringing a decent sentence together. Impeded speech could have rendered his sermons unpalatable or barely existent, though he could have proved a loving pastor in other ways. Perhaps, being a poor curate, he was not so well educated and felt unqualified to expound the oracles of God, unlike the better remunerated incumbents with their Oxbridge degrees and propertied backgrounds. Lacking eloquence and articulation, he probably still satisfied the needs of the Wyresdale farmers among whom he ministered, if not the more sophisticated puritan of the towns.

When the Wyresdale chapel was investigated by parliamentary commissioners in 1650, they stated:

"The Minister of the said chapel is Mr. Thomas Denny, B.A., who has been a preaching Minister there about twelve years."

I would  like to think that I shall meet Grandfather Cragge in heaven one day; assuming he was a man who trusted Christ even though he could barely proclaim Him, I see no reason why I won’t. I am glad a better qualified man took over his pulpit after his passing. Pastors and ministers do many noble things, but preaching Christ is surely chief among them.

Then faith is by hearing, and hearing by the word of God -Romans 10:17, Geneva.

Salem folk may judge for themselves the extent to which I am John’s heir.