Family Lessons 71: Serjeants of Long Preston

My ancestors Thomas and Jane Serjeantson died at Long Preston in 1719 and 1713 respectively. Their surname intrigued me. A serjeant is a non-commissioned military rank, the backbone of regimental discipline. Not perhaps as exalted as a Roman centurion, but certainly chipped from the same block. Yet the name probably comes from the Old French sergent or serjant for servant, valet, court official or soldier. A military serjeant served his officers by dispensing their wishes among the men. He was, to quote the synagogue-building centurion, ‘a man also under authority’. We who hold office in the church may appear to call the shots and make decisions, but we are men under authority. If we follow the Servant King, how much more ought we to serve with humility and fear, knowing we shall give account to our Master and Commanding Officer.

I cannot tell if Thomas and Jane were good servants, nor if, having any of their own, they proved good employers. Only the Day will tell if they were sergeants of Christ, who

Serve[d] the Lord with gladness [and] came before his presence with singing. (Ps 100:2)

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 2 Cor 5:10