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My thanks to one of my readers Pastor Michael Ashcraft and Mark Ellis for their excellent news site, Godreports.

From it I learned that the three Americans who bravely subdued Ayoub El Khazzani on August 21, 2015 are practising Christians and attended the same Christian school.

Heroes and believers

Mark Ellis’s article reveals (emphases mine):

The families of the three Americans who foiled a terror attack on a Paris-bound train Friday said their heroism was directly related to their sturdy Christian faith.

“They’re all Christians, they’re all very religious.” Peter Skarlatos, the brother of Alek Skarlatos told the Sacramento Bee.

Anthony Sadler’s father is a Baptist minister in Sacramento. He, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone have all been friends since childhood and attended California’s Freedom Christian School together. They also enjoyed playing military games in their free time.

Sadler is attending university. Stone is an Airman First Class. Skarlatos is in the Oregon National Guard.

The drama took place on a high-speed train going from Amsterdam to Paris. In a BBC interview, Sadler said:

I came to see my friends on my first trip in Europe, and we stopped a terrorist. Kinda crazy.

His father, the Revd Anthony Sadler said he is “still wrapping his head around” events.

Ayoub El Khazzani boarded the train in Brussels, armed with Kalashnikov assault rifle, a Luger automatic pistol, a box-cutter, and multiple rounds of ammunition. He opened fire, injuring a passenger.

A Briton, 62-year-old Chris Norman, a management consultant who lives in France, told The Telegraph that he could hear conversation nearby:

I heard an American saying ‘go get him’, then someone else saying, ‘no you don’t do that’. Then I realised the only way to survive was go for him.

It should be noted that, during this time, train staff had sequestered themselves elsewhere, which came in for heated debate on French talk radio station RMC the following Monday. The BBC article states:

The 554 passengers included French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade, the star of Betty Blue and Nikita, who was lightly wounded breaking glass to sound the alarm.

In an interview with Paris Match magazine, Mr Anglade said train staff entered a private cabin and locked it when they heard gunshots, leaving the passengers alone.

“I thought it was the end, that we were going to die, that he was going to kill us all,” he said.

“I really could see us all dying because we were all prisoners in that train, it would have been impossible to escape from that nightmare.”

Skarlatos told Sky News:

“I just looked at Spencer and said, ‘Let’s go!’,” said Mr Skarlatos from his hotel in Arras, northern France.

Spencer got to the guy first, grabbed the guy by the neck and I grabbed the handgun, got the handgun away from the guy and threw it.

Then I grabbed the AK (assault rifle), which was at his feet, and started muzzle thumping him in the head with it.

Mr Stone was cut by the attacker behind his neck and his thumb was nearly sliced off as the man was wrestled to the ground by the Americans.

Mr Sadler, who also helped to subdue the suspect, said: “The gunman pulls out a boxcutter and slices Spencer a few times.” He added the attacker “never said a word”.

Mr Stone needed surgery on his badly wounded hand, but his friends said he was “doing fine”. A total of three people were injured in the attack. Two are still in hospital.

The BBC reported that Stone, despite his own injuries, went to help the first injured passenger:

“I’m really proud of my friend that he just reacted so quickly and so bravely,” Anthony Sadler said.

“He was really the first one over there. Even after being injured himself, he went to go help the other man who was bleeding also. Without his help, he would have died.

That man was bleeding from his neck profusely.”

Chris Norman, husband and grandfather, helped the three Americans subdue the attacker. He told The Telegraph:

My thought was I am going to die anyway so let’s go. I’d rather die being active than sitting in the corner being shot. Once you start moving, you’re not afraid any more.

Godreports reveals the providential nature of the rescue:

the young men started their trip on a different train car, then switched 30 minutes later to the same car where the gunman opened fire.

Also:

El Khazzani drew his pistol and put it to Airman Stone’s head and pulled the trigger twice.

But it clicked twice and didn’t go off,” Airman Stone’s mother, Joyce Eskel, said later, according to news reports.

Pastor Sadler said:

he believes his son and his friends were used by God to disrupt what could have been an awful tragedy.

“We believe God’s providential will worked its way out,” he said. “I’m just thankful they were there and got things done.”

Pastor Sadler said his son has a “great love for his friends. There’s no way he would stand on the sidelines and watch them get attacked,” Sadler Sr. said. “I’m thanking God they were not seriously injured.”

A grateful President François Hollande presented the three Americans with Legion of Honor medals in Paris on Monday, August 24.

Ayoub El Khazzani — criminal

France’s BFM-TV has an article which provides background on El Khazzani based on statements from Paris’s prosecutor François Molins and newspaper reports. A summary follows.

El Khazzani was born in 1989 in Morocco. Upon his arrest in Arras after his train attack, he told investigators that he has two brothers and two sisters. His parents are still alive, but a British newspaper said El Khazzani’s father had not heard from his son for at least a year.

In 2007, he moved to Spain. He lived in Madrid for a time then moved to Algeciras where he lived until 2014. El Pais newspaper says that during this time he was arrested three times for drugs offences, two in Madrid and one on the island of Ceuta, located between Spain and Morocco. He served a prison term for one of these offences. Otherwise, he worked at temporary jobs and was involved in petty crime.

He began listening to speeches from radical Islamists in mosques in Andalucia. By 2012, Spanish police declared him ‘potentially dangerous’ and shared the information with forces securing the borders of Schengen countries.

By 2014, Spain’s antiterrorist police notified their French colleagues that El Khazzani had likely moved somewhere in France. They also said that he went to Syria and then returned to France. French authorities did not confirm this information.

In 2014, the French responded by opening an ‘S’ (security) file on El Khazzani. Then they lost track of him until May 10, 2015, when he was traced in Berlin before travelling to Istanbul. Ten days later, Spanish investigators told the French he had moved to Belgium.

From there, the trail went cold until he boarded the Thalys train on August 21.

El Khazzani told investigators in Arras that he had spent the previous six months travelling in Belgium, Germany, Austria, France and Andorra.

His father told a British newspaper he was sure his son worked for a month in France sometime during Spring 2014.

Belgian investigators are examining links El Khazzani might have had with radical Islamists in the city of Verviers.

As for the train attack, El Khazzani told police he was broke and needed money. He was going to hold up train passengers, nothing more.

The BFM-TV article concludes that his statement was a:

Fantasist version. The young Americans who subdued him had no doubt about his terrorist intentions.

Thank goodness they showed the bravery they did.

One interesting aspect about people watching is observing how Christians present themselves to others.

Several of the churchgoers in my area look permanently miserable, angry even. They are eager to talk about their problems and illnesses. Their conversations revolve around them. Rarely have I heard from them a friendly hello or a sincere ‘How are you?’ Smiles are nowhere to be seen.

They do not seem to have purpose.

They seem devoid of hope.

One wonders about their faith.

If I were not a believer, they would not be the ones bringing me to Christ Jesus, that’s for sure.

‘Church is a hospital for the sick,’ they say.

Yes, the spiritually sick, so they can be saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). Churches and related committees — meant to serve the congregation — should not overly indulge or encourage personal psychodrama and moaning.* If they do, something is wrong somewhere.

Navel gazing denies the lordship of Christ. It prevents loving one’s neighbour. It’s spiritual darkness.

If such ‘Christians’ think they are evangelising, they’re giving a poor example to everyone they encounter.

A number of these people have spouses and children who shy away from attending church. I’m not surprised, based on what they experience at home. It’s no wonder secularists are winning the battle for hearts and minds.

Self-absorbed pewsitters would do well to pray honestly for our Lord to show them purpose with regard to others, starting with their own families. Along with that should be a private study of the Bible with the aid of a sound commentary. Too many programmes, like Alpha, encourage a non-judgemental ‘Scripture is what I think it says’ outlook, which can often hinder faith.

Navel gazers should focus on divine grace which would allow them to progressively leave their self-preoccupation behind and become a more responsible spouse, parent and church member. Those in my area should also give thanks for their God-given blessings: a comfortable house, good neighbourhood, patient family members and much more. Millions in Britain would love to be in their shoes.

It’s hard to know whether such self-obsession results from a lack of faith, a surfeit of pride or both. Whatever it is, it isn’t good or helpful for these people — or others.

The best ambassador for Christ I can think of lives in our street. She is an elderly lady who suffers from a debilitating illness. Sometimes she needs a zimmerframe (‘walker’, for my American readers). Often, a friend has to accompany her to church. However, she stops to talk to her neighbours and actually converses with them. She’s perpetually cheerful. I’ve never heard her discuss her ailment, even though she’s probably in chronic pain. She shows interest in other people and things. She and I had a lengthy conversation about the ornamentals in our front garden one day.

She is a delightful woman and a good Christian.

Would that more emulated her fine example.

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*  I have seen it first hand, and it’s put me off serving on church committees for good.

slipperyMany thanks to loyal reader Llew, who sent in the link to the Spiked article cited below!

The UK Parliament will be debating assisted dying in September 2015. Over the past few years, several high profile cases have come to light of older Britons who have ended it all with professional help. Sometimes this was because of terminal illness, however, not always.

Secularist supporters

In August 2015, university lecturer and author Kevin Yuill wrote an article for Spiked — the UK’s libertarian, secular humanist/atheist site — about the curious case of retired nurse Gill Pharaoh.

Pharaoh was 75 and relatively healthy when she died on July 21, 2015, at the LifeCircle clinic in Switzerland. Yuill says she was ‘healthy’, but her final entry states that, in recent years, she’d suffered an attack of shingles, ongoing tinnitus and joint pain. A lot of other older people have these ailments, too. But she wanted to end her life her way.

Yuill cites Pharaoh’s blog. She wanted

people to remember me as I now am – as a bit worn around the edges but still recognisably me!

But how was she to know what she would be like in five or even 15 years’ time? Only the Almighty knows that. Maybe she would have continued to age gracefully apart from physical complaints which are entirely normal, albeit annoying, aspects of growing old.

Pharaoh had no faith. She objected to British law with regard to assisted death because it

originates from a god in whom we have no belief.

Pharaoh blogged about her decision-making regarding ending her own life. She also gave a interview to The Times (Murdoch paper, ergo paywall), summarised in the Daily Mail. Yuill says she was searching for validation and recognition. He introduces his article with a précis of Christopher Lasch‘s excellent 1979 book, The Culture of Narcissism. If you can buy or borrow a copy, it will be more relevant today than when it was written. I read it in the early 1980s in the US and was shocked. Needless to say, my work colleagues told me the man was talking out of his hat. Yet, how correct he was. His book warns about attention-seeking behaviour which demands that everyone else acquiesces to one’s wishes. What Pharaoh wanted was a change in the law.

The Daily Mail article quotes Pharaoh as saying that her mother had dementia and that, if she could have done so, she would have helped her mother die. My family members and I have had parents with dementia and Alzheimer’s, for shorter and longer periods of time. None of us, even the agnostics, ever thought of putting them to death.

Another high profile case in Britain was that of 68-year old Bob Cole, who ended his days at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland on August 14, 2015. Cole’s wife Ann Hall, who suffered from progressive supranuclear palsy, had died at the clinic 18 months before.

Cole had mesothelioma, a lung cancer, which left him doubled over — in his words, ‘crouching like an animal’. He, too, wanted a change in the law. The Telegraph reports (aforementioned link) that he told The Sun (another Murdoch paper, like The Times) in an interview:

I should be able to die with dignity in my own country, in my own bed. The law needs to change. How do you change the law? People have got to take a stand. So that’s what I’m doing today. 

The politicians need to have the guts to change this law. Just bite the bullet. Accept that the British public want this change. If they don’t it will be forced upon them because the public feeling is overwhelming.

Is ‘public feeling overwhelming’ on this issue?

In any event, there are British organisations promoting legalised assisted death. Dignity in Dying were informed once Bob Cole died. Gill Pharaoh had been a member of the Society for Old Age Rational Suicide (SOARS). What role do such groups play in encouraging personal publicity for past and future high profile assisted suicides?

Yuill has a point when he says that people who want to terminate their lives through assisted dying should do so quietly with no publicity.

Judeo-Christian supporters

Only days after my reader Llew forwarded me the Spiked article, I read an article in The Telegraph which left me speechless.

‘”There is nothing sacred about suffering”, insist faith leaders in assisted dying call’ shocked me.

Among these faith leaders are

Rabbi Danny Rich, chief executive of Liberal Judaism and Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain a leading figure in Reform Judaism …

That is bad enough. However, there are Christians, too: Baroness Richardson, first female President of Methodist Conference, along with prominent Anglicans such as Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, The Bishop of Buckingham, the Rt Rev Alan Wilson, and ‘a handful of Anglican clerics’.

It should be noted that the Church of England officially opposes euthanasia.

These men and women, Jews and Christians, are opposing the government — and God.

In a letter to The Telegraph, the article says, they wrote that:

far from being a sin, helping terminally ill people to commit suicide should be viewed simply as enabling them to “gracefully hand back” their lives to God.

There is, they insist “nothing sacred” about suffering in itself and no one should be “obliged to endure it”, they insist.

Wow. Just. Wow.

How can one ‘gracefully hand back’ one’s life to God by terminating it? He gave us life. Only He can legitimately end it. It is not up to us to decide when that moment is. Not so long ago, this sort of attitude would have been rightly condemned.

Well, Rob Marris (Labour) will have his Assisted Dying Bill debated within the next few weeks. May life-respecting and God-fearing heads prevail.

Why the law should stay as it is

The Telegraph article included the following rationale for maintaining the status quo:

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, co-chair of the Campaign group Living and Dying Well, which opposes a change, said: “The law exists to protect us, all of us and especially the most vulnerable among us, from harm – including self-harm.

“People who are terminally ill are especially vulnerable. As a society we go to considerable lengths to discourage and prevent suicide.

“Licensing assisted suicide for terminally ill people would fly in the face of that.”

I couldn’t agree more. In 2014, I pointed out that children’s euthanasia was already legal in the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium. There’s no minimum age in Belgium and in the other two countries a child only needs to be 12 years old before he can request his own death. These kids could be disabled, suffering from terminal illness or have a curable condition such as anorexia. This is a very slippery slope.

Returning to the Spiked article, Kevin Yuill pointed out that, on the other end of the age spectrum, a Dutch citizen’s initiative Uit Vrije Wil (Out of Free Will) received 117,000 letters of support in 2010 for a relaxation of the Netherlands’ law which would allow persons over the age of 70 to end their own lives just because they were tired of living!

And this isn’t a European phenomenon, either. My aforementioned post from 2014 gave these statistics:

In 2005, Gallup’s poll on the subject found that a majority of Christians in the United States support euthanasia: 75% of Catholics, 70% of Protestants and 61% of Evangelicals. A majority of Catholics and Protestants also support physician-assisted suicide, PAS — 60% and 52%, respectively — although only 32% of Evangelicals do.

It’s pretty clear that the rise of secularism in the 1960s, possibly before, brought about legalised control over life and death, beginning with abortion. A person can be his own god, making decisions only the Almighty rightly has control over.

Does God pardon Christian suicide?

John MacArthur’s Grace to You (GTY) ministry team wrote a worthwhile article, ‘Can one who commits suicide be saved?’

It’s short and well worth reading. On the one hand, as Christians are saved, in principle, suicide

can be forgiven like any other sin.

HOWEVER … on the other hand …

GTY say that this would be (emphases mine) only 

in a time of extreme weakness.

They explain:

… we question the faith of those who take their lives or even consider it seriously–it may well be that they have never been truly saved.

In which case, there is the issue of the second death at Judgement Day leading to eternal condemnation.

Their article cites Scripture saying that a true Christian has hope and purpose in his life. As such, suicide would not enter into the equation. And:

Furthermore, one who repeatedly considers suicide is practicing sin in his heart (Proverbs 23:7), and 1 John 3:9 says that “no one who is born of God practices sin.” And finally, suicide is often the ultimate evidence of a heart that rejects the lordship of Jesus Christ, because it is an act where the sinner is taking his life into his own hands completely rather than submitting to God’s will for it. Surely many of those who have taken their lives will hear those horrifying words from the Lord Jesus at the judgment–“I never knew you; Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23).

The article concludes:

So though it may be possible for a true believer to commit suicide, we believe that is an unusual occurrence. Someone considering suicide should be challenged above all to examine himself to see whether he is in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Bible verses against suicide and assisted death

There are many web pages with notional Scripture verses against suicide which includes assisted death. However, most of the verses are not very helpful.

The best page I have found is Adrian Warnock’s on Patheos.

Warnock is a physician and author. He also serves as part of the leadership team at Jubilee Church London.

Any Christian who is considering ending his own life through assisted dying would do well to read Warnock’s selection of Bible verses, meditate on them then pray fervently and frequently.

Here are the first three (emphases in the original):

This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it (John 11:4).

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:10).

For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. (2 Corinthians 1:8–10.)

His page has several more.

Conclusion

Christians who listen to their clergy and leaders who advocate for euthanasia or assisted dying are in danger of dying an everlasting death. As they are making a considered, premeditated decision, they are guilty of murdering themselves.

Clergy advocating assisted dying would do well to examine their hearts humbly before the Lord, repent and publicly say they were wrong. They could be sending Christians — and themselves — to an eternal death. Theirs is such an irresponsible and reprehensible position to adopt.

No one knows why the Lord sends us debilitating and lengthy illnesses. However, He works everything to His purpose. In these situations, Christians must have hope, faith and pray whilst seeking palliative relief.

The basic problem is — and this seems to include certain clergymen, too — lack of faith, a love of self and pride in one’s own abilities and decision-making. I’ll return to these themes soon in another context.

Bible readingThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Matthew 9:1-8

Jesus Heals a Paralytic

And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing[a] their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

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Accounts of this miracle also feature in Luke’s and Mark’s Gospels.

I wrote about Luke 5:17-26 two years ago. That post includes a discussion of all three accounts. Mark’s version — Mark 2:1-12 — is actually one of the readings in the three-year Lectionary.

Matthew’s account is somewhat abbreviated by comparison. In verse 1, we read that Jesus was in His own city. Matthew 8 ends with the healing miracle of the two men with demons in the Gadara region. That was on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. The townspeople were afraid of Jesus after He sent the demons into the pigs which then ran off a cliff into the sea. The people asked Him to leave. He and His disciples sailed back home. They were now in Capernaum — probably at Peter’s house — as we know from Mark 2:1:

1 And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home.

Matthew does not mention the setting for this miracle, but Mark and Luke do. Mark 2:2 tells us:

2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them.

The first sentence of Luke 5:17 says:

17 On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem.

Matthew tells us that Jesus saw the faith of those who brought the paralytic before Him and that He pronounced the man’s sins forgiven (verse 2). Luke and Mark describe the extent of this intense faith. Luke 5:18-19:

18 And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, 19 but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus.

Mark 2:4:

4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay.

One can imagine the commotion that must have caused.

While the idea of climbing on to someone’s roof sounds alarming to us, the houses in Jesus’s time had ladders or some sort of staircase to the roof where people often gathered in warm weather.

As for the forgiveness of sins, the King James Version has a lovely wording of Jesus’s absolution in verse 2 (emphases mine below):

Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.

As my post on Luke’s account says, not every illness was or is a result of sin, although this man’s paralysis was. John MacArthur says in his corresponding sermons for Luke and Matthew that it is possible this man had syphilis, which can result in paralysis.

That our Lord calls the man ‘son’ shows His true affection for and spiritual adoption of him. John MacArthur looks at the original Greek equivalent:

The word teknon could probably be translated child.  It’s a term of infinite tenderness.  Here is a man who is overwrought with his sin.  It’s been thrown at him from the social viewpoint, it’s bubbled up inside of him from the guilt of his own soul, he knows he is a sinful man, he believes that this man has the power of God, he has the faith as a sinner to put himself in the presence of a holy God and take his chances, and he is afraid.  That is why the Lord says to him, “Don’t be afraid.  Take courage.”  It simply means stop being afraid.  There’s nothing to fear.  The man is afraid because he’s a sinner.  But how wonderfully does the Lord say to him, “Child,” a word of tenderness.  How thrilling to face the Holy One, conscious of your sickness, conscious of your sin, in grief and terror and fear and hear Him say, “Child.”  That’s the tenderness of Christ, to love the sinner, even though He was offended by his sin.

Not surprisingly, the scribes accused Him of blasphemy (verse 3). Jesus replied by asking why they think in such an evil way and which would be the easier to utter: forgiveness or healing (verses 4 and 5). John MacArthur offers this analysis:

Which is easier?  Well they’re stuck.  You notice they don’t give any answer.  There is no answer because neither is easier.  Both are impossible to men; both are possible to God.  “Which is easier, to say, ‘Thy sins are forgiven thee’; or to say, ‘Arise and walk?’”  Well they knew they couldn’t say either one, but He could say both.  He can do either with the same divine ease.  They’re both just as easy to Him.  God doesn’t sweat doing anything.  Only God can heal.  Only God can forgive.  And they were the ones who taught that disease and sickness was the result of sin, so the two things were inseparable: One who could heal disease could forgive sin and one who could forgive sin could heal diseases.  If they thought about it, their own theology told them that.  So He says, “Which is easier, to forgive or to heal?”  And the answer is that neither is easier.  Both are impossible to them.  They’re impossible. So the Lord is saying, “Look.  You’re stuck.  If I can do them, if I can do one I can do the other.  And if I can do the other I’m not a blasphemer, I’m God.”  They were trapped.  They knew He could heal and when He said, “Is it easier to forgive?” they couldn’t say yes because it wasn’t.  Only God could do that and only God could do the other.  Just shows you that their rejection was a willful rejection against the truth.  If Jesus put away sickness, disease, and demons, and disasters, and death, He could certainly deal with sin.

Jesus then went on to say that He would show His divine authority not only by forgiving the man’s sins but also healing him (verse 6). The man picked up his bed and went home (verse 7).

Matthew Henry explains:

He that had power to remove the punishment, no doubt, had power to remit the sin. The scribes stood much upon a legal righteousness, and placed their confidence in that, and made no great matter of the forgiveness of sin, the doctrine upon which Christ hereby designed to put honour, and to show that his great errand to the world was to save his people from their sins.

When I was a child, I always wondered why Jesus told the man to pick up his bed and not hand it to him out of mercy. Henry says Jesus had a reason for this instruction:

Now, 1. Christ bid him take up his bed, to show that he was perfectly cured, and that not only he had no more occasion to be carried upon his bed, but that he had strength to carry it.

Unlike the Gadarenes, the crowd’s response was very different. Of course, this can be explained by the crowd’s religious knowledge and belief. Although only a handful of them probably ever believed that Christ was their Messiah, they knew this miracle came from God and felt a righteous awe (verse 8). Henry tells us:

Though few of this multitude were so convinced, as to be brought to believe in Christ, and to follow him, yet they admired him, not as God, or the Son of God, but as a man to whom God had given such power. Note, God must be glorified in all the power that is given to men to do good.

MacArthur makes this distinction about the onlookers:

This fear, this phobos, this reverential awe of God, is the substance out of which all Christian behavior is to come.  They glorify God and so should we, but they did it because they feared God, they reverenced, they were in awe of His presence.  That’s the right response.  I hope you have such awe of Christ.  So Jesus forgives sin; the greatest message we have to give.  All I can say to you is I hope you’ve had that forgiveness.  When the crowd was split there were those who were forgiven and those who were furious.  It doesn’t tell us about another group, but they were there too, those that were fickleThey just took it in and walked away

I can add nothing to the conclusion of his sermon:

Christ offers forgiveness, blocks out all the past, washes away all sins; plural is the word here, past, present, future.  The greatest news you’ll ever have.  It’s available to you.

Next time: Matthew 9:14-17

My Forbidden Bible Verses post last week looked at Matthew 8:28-34, the account the deliverance of the men near Gadara of their many demons.

This is often referred to as the story of the Gadarene swine, since Jesus sent the demons into a flock of pigs which ran off a cliff into the Sea of Galilee.

The townspeople were no doubt upset at the loss of their pigs. However, more importantly, they were alarmed by Jesus’s divine power and, instead of considering His miracle as being of God, actively rejected Him.

Incidentally, yesterday’s post explained why Jesus sent the demons into the swine.

Matthew Henry’s commentary on Matthew 9 begins by revealing what happened to the Gadarenes in the end.

First, it is essential to know that our Lord leaves those who reject Him to their own devices:

They bid him begone, and he took them at their word, and we never read that he came into their coasts again. Now here observe, 1. His justice–that he left them. Note, Christ will not tarry long where he is not welcome. In righteous judgment, he forsakes those places and persons that are weary of him, but abides with those that covet and court his stay. If the unbeliever will depart from Christ, let him depart it is at his peril, 1 Corinthians 7:15.

Secondly, He has infinite patience:

2. His patience–that he did not leave some destroying judgment behind him, to punish them, as they deserved, for their contempt and contumacy. How easily, how justly, might he have sent them after their swine, who were already so much under the devil’s power. The provocation, indeed, was very great: but he put it up, and passed it by and, without any angry resentments or upbraidings, he entered into a ship, and passed over. This was the day of his patience he came not to destroy men’s lives, but to save them not to kill, but to cure.

However, if His judgement on the Gadarenes did not follow at the time, it certainly did around the time the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. How many of us knew this? Emphases mine:

Spiritual judgments agree more with the constitution of gospel times yet some observe, that in those bloody wars which the Romans made upon the Jews, which began not many years after this, they first besieged the town of Gadara, where these Gadarenes dwelt.

Coincidence? Believers would not think so. Our Lord works everything to His divine plan.

My Forbidden Bible Verses post last week looked at Matthew 8:28-34, the account the deliverance of the men near Gadara of their many demons.

This is often referred to as the story of the Gadarene swine, since Jesus sent the demons into a flock of pigs which ran off a cliff into the Sea of Galilee.

The townspeople were no doubt upset at the loss of their pigs. However, more importantly, they were alarmed by Jesus’s divine power and, instead of considering His miracle as being of God, actively rejected Him. Tomorrow’s post will reveal what happened to them. (If you’re reading this on August 27 into August 28, 2015, the link is not yet live.)

Many people today, Christians and secularists, find this healing miracle of deliverance disturbing because Jesus, at the demons’ request, drove them into the swine. The demons were so powerful that they drove the swine into the sea. Therefore, the modern conclusion is that Jesus was cruel in doing that to helpless pigs.

However, John MacArthur tells us that Jesus had to do it for reasons of human understanding:

Why?  Because if He’d just said, “Demons leave,” nobody would have known whether they left or where they went … But when you watch two thousand pigs dive off a cliff and drown in the sea, they knew exactly what had happened, that the demons had entered those pigs, which proved the point that He had cleansed those two men.

This is an important — and essential — point to explain to people who object to our Lord’s actions in this healing. Everything He did — and does — serves a divine purpose.

 

This is my final entry on Huguenots for 2015. All being well, I’ll have another series next year.

Until the 19th century, many English clockmaking firms were in business. The English, being scientifically minded (until the past 20 years), had exceptional talents when it came to inventing ways to improve horology and keeping time.

Unfortunately, tempus fugit and, with cheaper clocks coming from the Continent combined with the loss of the United States as an export market around a century ago, the industry has diminished.

Present day situation

Today, only two English firms exist: Thwaites & Reed, established in 1740 and operating near Brighton on the south coast, and a newcomer, Newgate Clocks, founded in 1991 in Shropshire.

That said, the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, established in 1631, still exists. It is the oldest surviving horological institution in the world. The Company’s motto is Tempus Rerum Imperator, Latin for Time is the ruler of (all) things. Isn’t that the truth!

Compared with the history of lace making in this country, no one argues about Huguenot participation in timepiece making.

The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers have a museum, created in 1814, which has the best of ancient and fine timepieces. Before the collection relocated to the Science Museum in the summer of 2015, the curator was on hand in April in the Guildhall location:

The Curator will be at the Museum for the most of the day on Tuesday 9th April and will be happy to answer any questions from visitors and highlight the Huguenot clocks in the display cases.

It is regrettable that the Guildhall and the Clockmakers were unable to arrive at an agreeable negotiation for renewal. The museum had its home there for 150 years. The Guildhall location closes on September 1, 2015.

The Clockmakers Collection is now on the second floor of the Science Museum and visits are free of charge.

Huguenot horologers

British History Online tells us that records of English clock and watch manufacture are thin on the ground. What follows is a summary of the article.

Were it not for the mandate to stamp gold and silver watches with the manufacturer’s name, we would know even less than we do. What is lost are the names of those who worked behind the scenes.

In London, clock and watch makers lived and worked in the City — the oldest part of London — and the West End, the political centre near the royal Court. Another watch and clock making centre was to the northwest of London in Middlesex.

The Huguenots settled in Soho (part of Westminster) in the West End.

The article states:

Some of the most skilled clockmakers employed in England during the 16th century were foreigners. Nicholas Cratzer or Craczer, (fn. 3) a German astronomer, was ‘deviser of the King’s (Hen. VIII) horloges,’ and lived thirty years in England. He was a Bavarian, born in 1487. Six French craftsmen were imported in the time of Henry VIII to make a clock for Nonsuch Palace. Nicholas Oursiau, Frenchman and denizen, was clockmaker to both Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, and constructed the old turret clock at Hampton Court. (fn. 4) He as well as his two assistants Laurence Daunton of the French Church and Peter Doute of the Dutch Church, are returned as living in Westminster in 1568.

Many Huguenots involved in the industry were workers, not owners. However, their well-honed skills and attention to detail helped English manufacturers ensure quality products for the Royal Family, the gentry and wealthy merchants.

Notable Huguenot watchmakers and clockmakers

A few Huguenots owned their own firms and were very successful.

Debaufre

The Debaufre (de Beaufré) family settled in Soho in the 17th century. They were highly skilled watchmakers. Peter Debaufre’s workshop was located in Church Street and the company was in business from 1686 to 1750. Debaufre was admitted to the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers in 1689.

In 1704, he, Jacob Debaufre and Nicolas Facio (Faccio, Fatio de Duillier) were granted a patent for jewel bearing, the application of jewels to the pivot holes of watches and clocks.

Incidentally, Nicolas Fatio de Duillier, a fellow of the Royal Society, was a controversial figure. Although he was a brilliant Swiss mathematician with a keen interest in astronomy and physics, he became involved with the ‘prophetic’ Camisards around the time this patent was granted. In 1705, he became the ‘chief’ of this radical and violent French political-religious sect. Parliament suspected Fatio de Duillier of plotting against the state and, at the instigation of the French Church in London, sentenced him to be pilloried as a common cheat and impostor spreading ‘wicked and counterfeit prophecies’. He was nearly killed on the day by a violent mob. Afterward, he left England for a tour of Europe and Asia, returning in 1712. He died in 1753, near Worcester. But I digress.

Once the Debaufres’ patent was granted, they put a sign up in their shop advertising jewelled watches. You can see an example of a ‘Debauffre’ watch in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Peter Debaufre also devised a dead-beat or ‘club-footed’ verge escapement, later adopted and adapted by several other watchmakers.

James Debaufre joined the family firm in 1712. The business closed in 1750.

De Charmes

Simon De Charmes escaped to England in 1688. He was admitted to the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers in 1691.

He was highly successful and was able to build a grand family house in Hammersmith (west London), Grove Hall, in 1730. His son David succeeded him in the business. David died in 1783.

DiscoveringClocks tells us that the Huguenots (emphases mine):

brought with them many skills which enlightened and changed fashion and brought luxury items to the market place.  Furniture and clock-making reached their zenith in this period.

DiscoveringClocks has two photos of a surviving De Charmes carriage clock, neither of which I wished to copy here as the object is so rare:

It has a green lacquer case and the domed top is exquisitely decorated with polychrome floral sprigs set against a soft bottle green ground colour …

The case has four gilt metal flambeau finials and is surmounted by carved gilt wooden sound frets set below the dome; it also retains its original gilt metal foliate handle.  One can image how colourful it was when the purchaser brought the clock home, fresh from the workshop.  It has mellowed over a period of time but it is still strikingly beautiful.

Magniac

British History Online mentions Francis Magniac. His workshop was in Clerkenwell (east London) and was in operation between 1770 and 1794.

Magniac was a highly skilled maker of complicated clocks and automata.

In addition to his mechanical expertise, he was also a colonel. He exported many of his wares to China.

Magniac married an Englishwoman, Frances Attwood, who gave birth to their son Hollingworth in 1786 in Bedfordshire. They also had two other sons, Daniel and Charles.

Francis Magniac sent Charles to Canton to keep an eye on the family business interests in that part of the world. Charles established Magniac & Co in China. It soon became one of the most powerful and successful trading houses there.

To avoid too much commercial control by the East India Company, which monopolised British trade in Asia, prominent British businessmen there renounced their citizenship for that of another European country. John Reid, a Scot, was the first to do so in becoming an Austrian citizen. Charles and Hollingworth followed suit under Prussian nationality.

Amazingly, Reid became the Chinese Consul by appointment of the Emperor of Austria. Charles was appointed Prussian Consul and Hollingworth Prussian Vice-Consul.

Charles Magniac was killed in Paris in 1824. The Wikipedia article did not state the circumstances. Daniel took over Magniac & Co but fell into disrepute when he married his Chinese mistress.

This put Hollingworth in charge, but, by then, the company was rapidly falling into decline. The Magniac brothers knew Scottish merchants William Jardine and James Matheson well. Hollingworth appointed Jardine senior partner and Matheson also received a highly responsible position.

Hollingworth returned to England in 1828. He left his capital in trust to Jardine and Matheson. His former company continued to trade as Magniac & Co until 1832, when it became Jardine Matheson and Company, a Fortune 500 company today.

In England, Hollingworth married in 1827 and became a partner of a merchant banking firm Magniac, Smith & Co in 1835, agents for Jardine Matheson. When Jardine returned to England, the merchant bank was renamed Magniac, Jardine & Co.

Hollingworth died in 1867. He is buried in the Magniac mausoleum in Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire.

Vuillamy – Swiss not French

My final mention here is of particular interest to me, as I occasionally have an opportunity to see and hear a Vuillamy clock when I am a guest at a private member’s club in Pall Mall.

Justin Vuillamy moved from Switzerland in England around 1730. He was already a skilled watchmaker and went to work for Benjamin Gray in Pall Mall. Gray was the clockmaker for George II and the Clockmakers Collection at the Science Museum has several of his specimens on display.

Vuillamy married Gray’s daughter and succeeded Gray as head of the business. British History Online tells us:

The watches made by this firm were of very fine quality: one of them fetched £120 15s. when the Hawkins Collection was dispersed by auction in 1895. This beautiful example had an outer case of gold and crystal and a diamond thumb-piece to press back the locking spring, the inner case being enamelled in colours with a garden scene.

Vuillamy’s son Benjamin later took over the business. He was a favourite of George III:

and much consulted by the king on mechanical subjects, especially in connexion with Kew Observatory.

His son, Benjamin Lewis Vuillamy, born in 1780, was the next head of the firm:

and obtained a high reputation for the exactness and excellent finish of his work, both in clocks and watches. Until his death in 1854, the office of clockmaker to the reigning sovereign continued to be held by members of the Vulliamy family.

The royal palaces and Windsor Castle have several Vuillamy clocks.

Elsewhere:

Among the public timekeepers made by B. L. Vulliamy were the large clock at the old Post Office, St. Martin’s-leGrand, and one at Christ Church, Oxford.

Benjamin Lewis Vuillamy also wrote:

several pamphlets on the art of clock-making; one of them being on the construction of the deadbeat escapement.

And:

He was a very active member of the Company of Clockmakers, of which he was five times master; in recognition of his services to them, the company presented him with a piece of plate in 1849.

The Vuillamy clock I have the pleasure of seeing is beautifully made, although without much ornamentation. The highlight for me is when it strikes the hour. The delicate chime is heavenly. I’ve not heard the likes of it before or since.

A contentious subject among some English historians is whether the Huguenots were involved in lace making in our country.

Each side makes its own case for or against.

The case against

Those discounting Huguenot involvement say that an English cottage industry of lace making already existed by the time they arrived in the 16th century. This is true. However, very few examining this aspect of history ever said the Huguenots or their Flemish counterparts actually brought lace making to England.

What could be said is that the Huguenots and the Flemish improved our lace by bringing Continental techniques and materials to England.

Another aspect which needs to be taken into account is the association of certain types of lace with the Huguenots. Some of the laces linked to them were not devised until long afterward. However, it is possible that a few older historians misunderstood or accidentally mis-stated this.

An example of this can be found on the Wikipedia talk page for the Huguenots entry, which has an extensive analysis of lace making in England and Huguenot involvement. This involves the foremost history of English lace making, Romance of the Lace Pillow, written in 1919 by Thomas Wright. Emphases mine below:

3. The whole of Wright’s argument then turns on his statement “From this time Bucks [Buckinghamshire, southern England] point lace developed: it is a combination of Mechlin patterns on Lille ground.” In effect he is arguing that the two groups of refugees must have been responsible for the development of East Midlands lace because its style is derived from the two styles of lace of the regions from which the refugees came. Although this argument may sound plausible to the layman, it is based on the fallacy that what is now known as Mechlin lace existed at the time of the immigration from Flanders, which according to Wright was several years before 1572 (i.e late sixteenth century).

On what evidence is our knowledge of the history of lace based? Lace was primarily a fashion item, and the most extensive evidence for the development of styles of lace is from portraits, which can generally be dated accurately. Written records document the existence of lacemaking and lacemakers in particular regions at particular times, which is the basis for saying that lace was made in the East Midlands as early as 1596. However we know very little about what type of lace was made there in the seventeenth century because no descriptions have been found.

What we do know from portraits is that the lace now known as Bucks Point did not appear until the end of the eighteenth century. (It was at this time that the Lille ground was adopted by lacemakers all over Europe because it could be made more quickly than the Mechlin ground.) Santina Levey, a textile curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, writes in her highly respected “Lace, A History” (Maney, 1990: ISBN: 0-901286-15-X) that Mechlin lace developed in the first half of the eighteenth century (pp.45 and 47), while Lille lace with its typical mesh ground first appeared towards the end of the eighteenth century (p.90).

Therefore, according to this potential editor, Socialambulator:

One final point that I haven’t addressed previously (because my views on this are subjective) is why the idea gained currency that the Huguenots influenced English lacemaking. Like Seguin and others, I think it was probably economic. French lace was regarded as of higher quality, and commanded a higher price, than English lace. Associating E. Midlands lace with the Huguenots would have been used to give it a French association (and price tag). It should be mentioned that, Harry Armstrong, the publisher of Thomas Wright’s “The Romance of Lace Pillow”, himself sold lace under the name of ‘Mrs’ H Armstrong.

The case for

One of the problems in pinpointing Huguenot influence and involvement is that many records from the time no longer exist.

Yet, Irish historians have little problem linking Huguenot refugees with lace making. A short piece from the Irish Times states:

After the end of the Williamite wars, large Huguenot settlements were established in Portarlington, Youghal, Cork, Dublin, Waterford and Lisburn, where they became celebrated for their expertise in textiles, specialising in weaving, lace-making, and glove-making. In the course of time, they became thoroughly absorbed into Irish society through intermarriage, and names such as Boucicault, Maturin, Le Fanu and Trench are still familiar in Ireland today.

Therefore, if Huguenots were involved in Ireland’s industry, why not England’s?

Lace making researchers from Buckinghamshire and elsewhere in England point to Huguenot participation in the craft.

The Cowper and Newton Museum in Olney, Bucks, has exhibits on various aspects of Georgian life. Of local lace making, a related page states:

Lace was probably made in the Eastern Counties (Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire) prior to 1563. This was, and still is, a flax growing area. The first wave of lace makers from the continent came in 1563 to 1568. They were Flemish Protestants who left the area around Mechelen (Mechlin / Malines) when Philip II introduced the Inquisition to the Low Countries …

Second wave of lacemakers, many from Lille, left in 1572 after The Massacre of the Feast of Saint Bartholomew. Exactly how many is not known but many hundreds came to Buckinghamshire and Northampton.

Local noblemen, the Museum says, offered these refugees sanctuary:

In 1586 Lord William Russell, son of the Duke of Bedford, owned property near Cranfield, Bedfordshire. This is about 10 miles from Olney. He had fought for William the Silent in the Low Countries and he was married to Rachel, daughter of the Huguenot Marquis de Rivigny. He invited many refugees to settle under his protection. Another English gentleman, who had fought for William of Orange, was George Gascoigne: he invited other Huguenots to settle near his manor at Cardington, Bedford. Huguenot emigration continued untiI the Edict of Nantes in 1598. However when the Edict was rescinded in 1685 by Louis XIV, there was another wave of religious refugees. About 10,000 left Burgundy and Normandy. The lace makers found their way to the by now well-established lace villages in the counties of Buckingham, Bedford and Northampton. Flemish and Huguenot names still common in this area are listed below; naturally most have been Anglicised over time.

The Olney Lace Circle page says the same thing but goes further:

It was the Flemish Protestants who brought lace making to England during the 1560’s. Many of these immigrants were lace makers and as they moved out of the overcrowded ports they began to settle into areas now regarded as the historic centres for the craft of lace making. In the county of Buckinghamshire these immigrants settled in Newport Pagnell, Buckingham and of course Olney

During the following decade the Huguenots fled France and a great many French lace makers also settled in this area.

A Genealogy page on bobbins also states that this technique came from the Flemish and Huguenots:

Bobbin lace making was a cottage industry probably introduced into England by Flemish refugees in the sixteenth century. They were Protestants escaping from the Inquisition. Many drifted to the Midlands, particularly Olney, Newport Pagnell. and Buckingham, and on into Northamptonshire. The Huguenots, lace makers from Lille in France, soon joined them. These refugees brought with them the tools of their trade and their expertise. Thus pillow lace making was established in the Midlands.

The Geni page on Huguenots tells us about their settlement in neighbouring Bedfordshire and Norwich:

Other Huguenots arriving in England settled in Bedfordshire, which was (at the time) the main centre of England’s lace industry. Huguenots greatly contributed to the development of lace-making in Bedfordshire, with many families settling in Cranfield, Bedford and Luton. Some of these immigrants moved to Norwich [East Anglia], which had accommodated an earlier settlement of Walloon weavers; they added to the existing immigrant population, which comprised about a third of the population of the city.

The Pierre Chastain site has an extensive timeline of Huguenot history. The entry for 1567-1568 reads as follows:

Huguenot thread and lace makers established in Maidstone [Kent], England. Others escaped to Cranfield in Bedfordshire and others to the shires of Oxford, Northampton and Cambridge. Huguenots established glassworks in London during this period.

An essay by a family member about the Godfrey sisters in Buckinghamshire, lace makers in the early 20th century, states:

The elderly lacemakers pictured are but three of a long line of Godfrey’s dating back, in my records, to 1654, and probably of Huguenot stock, `Godefrai’ by name. My maternal grandmother Elizabeth was one of a family of eight, and the trio pictured are her three maiden sisters with whom she lived when not out nursing at homes in the vicinity. Earlier she had married Richard Green of Olney, but he died shortly after my mother and her brother were born.

The development of lace making in England

A Sixteenth Century Industry traces the history of lace making in England. It was written in the early 20th century and discusses the making and selling of lace as well as working conditions. The photographs are marvellous.

The 32-page PDF compilation of articles and essays tells us that Continental Europe was much more advanced than England in this cottage industry (PDF pp. 9, 11):

It is true that the English made what they called ‘lace’, but this was really embroidery, whether drawn linen or cut work, very attractive certainly, but not lace as we now understand this term.

Between the 16th and 18th centuries, those who could afford it were married and buried in lace (p. 10).

Lace making, rightly associated with the poor, was also a hobby among gentlewomen. It has often been said that Catherine of Aragon, one of Henry VIII’s six wives, introduced the art to Bedfordshire when she retired there at Dower House in Ampthill Park (pp. 11, 12).

Mary Queen of Scots also made lace, which kept her occupied during her years of captivity (p. 12).

By the time Elizabeth I began her reign, lace making and design were much more sophisticated (p. 12).

Protestant refugees from Flanders and France helped to advance the industry (pp. 13, 14):

The Flemish and French Huguenots may be looked upon as the real founders in this country of the lace industry

Bucks Point is adapted from the Lace of Lille and Mechlin. It is possible that it was recognised as a distinct lace under Queen Elizabeth, and was probably made to some extent in the reign of James I, but it was firmly established in the reign of James II and William III.

The development of Bucks Point points to the influence of the Flemish from Mechlin and the French from Lille. The sentence does not say that this is the Mechlin lace of the 18th century nor that it was created in Elizabethan times.

Giddylimits‘s page on lace making tells us of another French influence:

One of the most popular and widely practised forms of lace making is Torchon Lace – this word comes from the French for dishcloth or duster. Another name for Torchon Lace was beggar’s lace and was not widely thought of but now it has made a renaissance and is popular with modern lace makers. It is also thought to be a good lace to start with as it has a structured form which is easy to pick up and follow.

The Revd Louis Fitzgerald Benson’s The Huguenots: their settlements, churches and industries in England and Ireland (1932) states:

Some lace-makers from Alenyon and Valenciennes settled at Cranfield, in Bedfordshire, in 1568 ; after which others settled at Buckingham, Stony Stratford, and Newport-Pagnell, from whence the manufacture gradually extended over the shires of Oxford, Northampton, and Cambridge. About the same time the manufacture of bone-lace, with thread obtained from Antwerp, was introduced into Devonshire by the Flemish exiles, who settled in considerable numbers at Honiton, Colyton, and other places, where the trade continued to be carried on by their descendants almost to our own time — the Flemish and French names of Stocker, Murch, Spiller, Genest, Maynard, Gerard, Raymunds, Rochett, Kettel, etc., being still common in the lace-towns of the west.

In the 17th century, men as well as women wore lace. Charles II wore a lot of it, with elaborate cuffs and jabots. William III once spent an unimaginable £2,459 on lace alone one year (p. 13, A Sixteenth Century Industry). Most of his subjects would have struggled to earn or spend £1 at any one time.

Lace in 18th and 19th century England

As the lace industry developed in England, more styles from other countries were absorbed into the repertoire. By the 18th century, the migration from Flanders and France had largely ended.

Fashion changes and the elaborate lace clothing of the centuries before gradually gave way to more modest trim. New styles refreshed the linens market: tablecloths, d’oyleys (p. 21), towels, bedclothes and curtains.

Maltese was a highly popular style in the 18th century. Buckinghamshire lace makers developed an offshoot of this called Bucks Cluny which also incorporated aspects of old Italian lace on display at the Cluny Museum in Paris (p. 18). Auvergne was another lace style also popular at the time.

Although we think of lace as being crafted exclusively by women prior to mechanisation, men and boys also made it. An article in The Agricultural History Review tells us that, in the countryside, it was a good means of making an earning when fields lay fallow. A farmer’s wife and daughters would often make it all year round. Farmers and their sons were also known to make it seasonally when not tending the fields. In towns and cities, lace making was taught to the poor, particularly children. Lace schools developed, run by a lace mistress. The primary activity was supplemented with just enough reading, writing and arithmetic to get by. Lace making was also promoted as a good way for the disabled to make a living. As long as their fingers were nimble, these people had the possibility of a livelihood.

Pay was minimal. Lace sellers made the most money. Middlemen paid a pittance for the lace they bought from home workers. The slightest flaw could cause a worker’s lace to remain unsold. Middlemen also expected undivided loyalty. A lace maker who sold wares to a competitor might find herself or himself unable to sell any further without considerable difficulty.

By the end of the 19th century, mechanised lace making was widespread in cities, especially in Nottingham. ‘A Brief History of Hosiery and Lacemaking in Nottingham’ describes the changes that the Industrial Revolution brought to the industry.

John Heathcoat had patented a mechanical way for bobbins to be ‘thrown’ one over the other. When his patent expired in the first half of the 19th century, these machines were widely reproduced by other manufacturers. Some were small enough to fit in a house, enabling piece work from home for those who were unable to work in a factory.

Nottingham boomed. There were bobbin makers in and around the city. Piece workers had to have their mechanised lace bleached and presentable for sale, so small industries grew to meet this need. Office occupations — bookkeeping, stocktaking — were also a part of keeping all sorts of factories running profitably.

In the West Country, lace making centred around Honiton and nearby towns, especially Branscombe and Beer. An essay from Branscombe Parish on lace making says that the lace from this area was called Honiton Lace because it was shipped from there. The area was already making lace by the time Huguenots arrived in the 16th century. The Honiton pillow technique used fishbones for pins and small sheep’s bones for bobbins. Branscombe and Beer each had their distinctive designs.

As with Nottingham, Honiton’s industry boomed during the 19th century. As the Napoleonic Wars had disrupted European trade, English lace could easily be made and shipped overseas. Queen Victoria ordered the lace flounce for her wedding dress from Tuckers of Branscombe in 1839. In 1863, Tuckers supplied lace for Princess Alexandra’s wedding dress. The Ford and Chick families also had successful lace businesses.

As successful as the Honiton industry was, it was still handmade and, therefore, could not compete long-term with Nottingham’s mechanisation. (Tiverton, Devon, also had a mechanised factory, Heathcotes.) There was local disapproval, too, of working conditions. Lady Trevelyan began commissioning her own work directly to avoid middlemen. She paid lace makers a higher price than the established businesses.

20th century decline

Although small-scale lace making continues in the Honiton area and is still commissioned by the Royal Family, it largely died out by the 20th century.

Buckinghamshire’s lace makers could not compete with ‘cheap Chinese and other foreign lace’ (p. 24, A Sixteenth Century Industry). ‘Mrs H Armstrong’ — in reality, Harry Armstrong — established The Cottage Lace Workers’ Agency at Olney. The Agency supplied thread, took orders and sold lace ‘in a businesslike way’.

Meanwhile, in Nottingham at the turn of the century, 20,000 people — mostly women — were employed in lace making. However, the French and German lace making industries were more competitive and the city endured periods of boom and bust, depending on what was in vogue when.

The Great War hit the city hard. One of the pre-eminent firms, Thomas Adams Ltd, had problems collecting debts from South America and Russia. Even when the war ended, the firm never recovered and had to close parts of the business and sell part of its premises to other unrelated companies.

During the Depression, the city’s Lace Market was gradually broken up. Printers, booksellers, box makers and others moved in. A decade later, Nottingham suffered damage from air raids. The lace manufacturers produced mosquito netting and camouflage nets for the war effort. After the war ended, although new lace markets developed overseas, the new products for export required new machines and new premises. These were built on the outskirts of Nottingham.

Thomas Adams Ltd closed in 1950.

Efforts from Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County councils have been under way since the 1960s to preserve the buildings of the once-great Lace Market.

Conclusion

Debate will continue to go on as to the influence that Huguenots and possibly the Flemish had on English lace making. As the objection to Huguenot involvement is recent, I can only think that they — and the Flemish — helped to perfect our styles and technique, making us more competitive for a while.

If we did have the pillow technique before their arrival, they might have brought us better-quality ones along with superior bobbins. Their weaving techniques were no doubt different, too. One can imagine that thread from Antwerp was probably finer than our original product as well. After all, Huguenots and the Flemish transformed our silk weaving dramatically.

Whatever the answer turns out to be, we had a once-great industry. Sadly, as with silk weaving, it died a slow death in the battle with progress.

As I mentioned last week, London’s small silk weaving industry was based in Spitalfields in the East End. In its infancy, it employed mostly Irish weavers.

When the Huguenots settled there, they were able to expand England’s silk weaving industry. It wasn’t long before Spitalfields was known as ‘Weaver Town’. Exodus (“Movement of the People”) explains that more silk coupled with French styling proved fashionable with the British upper class. It wasn’t long before Weaver Town’s Huguenot owners of silk weaving workshops became wealthy men with hundreds of employees. Their large family homes are still standing today.

From the time of the first arrivals in London, Huguenots quickly established their own churches and charities. One church, La Patente, was in Spitalfields. Another, the French Church, was further west in Soho, in present-day central London. The French Protestant Hospital, La Providence, in Old Street came later, having been established in 1718. It took care not only of the sick but also the destitute. Institutions such as these provided an informal job network, particularly for those who arrived with no contacts, such as would-be apprentices.

A Birkbeck (University of London) PhD thesis by William Farrell, Silk and globalisation in eighteenth-century London: commodities, people and connections c.1720-1800, tells us how many were employed in textiles from the records of the three aforementioned institutions (p. 85 of the document). In the 18th century, La Patente’s register showed three-fifths textile employment, the French church in Soho four-fifths and La Providence hospital 48%.

Farrell writes that earlier Huguenot records with regard to silk industry employment are unclear. However, his research reveals that the more successful weavers and artisans settled in East London between 1610 and 1694 (p. 81). Not surprisingly, Spitalfields became a nexus for Huguenot silk weaving and a century later, was a well-established community where new arrivals could seek employment.

The same was true in Ireland, although their initial settlement in the 17th century was easier than that of the Huguenots in England. William of Orange facilitated this in two ways. He recruited Huguenots who had fled to the Netherlands to his army to fight the Battle of the Boyne. He also appealed to them through the Statute of King William for Encouraging French Protestants to Settle in Ireland (p. 81).

Whilst many silk industry workers were successful, movement was sometimes fluid for those who were less in demand or beset by bad luck in short-term employment. Some moved from Ireland to London. A few dared to travel back to France for work when the British silk seasons were slow. In any event, migrations were undertaken quickly once a worker determined where he wanted to go next (pp 81, 82).

Natalie Rothstein’s Canterbury and London: The Silk Industry in the Late Seventeenth Century tells us that Huguenot silk weavers came from Normandy’s Pays de Caux region which comprises the cities of Dieppe and Le Havre. She notes that those settling in Canterbury would have found a familiarity about the region. Kent’s topography is similar to the Pays de Caux’s with its fertile farmland. In terms of employment, there was a rich market to be plumbed. The seat of the Church of England is there and, at the time anyway, there were many wealthy farmers and members of the landed gentry in the surrounding area.

Huguenot and Walloon weavers in Canterbury established a workshop in the 16th century. Edward VI granted them the whole of the western crypt of Canterbury Cathedral for worship purposes. The workshop was in steady use until 1830.

Rothstein’s paper puts together the pieces of the puzzle with regard to the workshop’s closure and the death of the silk industry in Canterbury. It must have been quite a challenge. What is available says that the original records are difficult to come by and some have even been destroyed.

However, in the mid-18th century, the War of Austrian Succession disrupted the shipment of raw silk from Asia, Italy and Turkey (Farrell, p. 83). Dublin’s silk industry shrank dramatically between 1730 and 1763. Many weavers moved to London.

Another serious challenge came around the same time: mechanisation. Punch card looms put many weavers out of work, not only in Britain but also elsewhere in Europe. By 1801, embroidery had been mechanised, too.

Yet another difficulty, despite Huguenot expertise, was that the climate in the British Isles was never going to be conducive to a large-scale silk industry.

In the end, finished Indian and Chinese silks took over.

The Exodus article says that 30,000 workers in the 18th century were affected by the downturn. Violent clashes took place between owners and employees. The 1801 Spitalfields Acts attempted to calm things down by improving wages and conditions as well as protecting the English silk market.

However, the Huguenots of Spitalfields ended up moving to what were then London’s suburbs (likely to be in the centre of the capital today). Another chapter of artisanal history had come to a close.

Although commercial controversies surrounding Huguenot trading in England had been largely resolved, Charles I’s reign brought a return of threat to French worship.

A book from 1871, Protestant exiles from France in the reign of Louis XIV or, The Huguenot refugees and their descendants in Great Britain and Ireland, details this story. A summary and excerpts follow.

The ill-fated Charles I began his reign on March 24, 1625. His relationship with Protestant practice was compromised by his Catholic family members and friends. He didn’t feel able to embrace the Huguenot cause as James and Elizabeth had done. However, he also did not want to be seen to reject them for fear of going against public opinion. In 1626, he declared official recognition of ‘existing immunities’ of foreign Protestants and their children.

In 1633, the Most Reverend William Laud became Archbishop of Canterbury. He remains controversial to this day, and people either love him or loathe him. Laud boldly declared ‘brotherhood’ with Rome and wanted to change official statements of Protestantism as ‘the true religion’. He then forbade Huguenot children born in England from worshipping in their parents’ French churches; they had to attend English-speaking Anglican parish churches. He also proscribed French language liturgy in Huguenot churches.

Ten years later, the Civil War began and Parliament abolished the episcopacy on November 5, 1643. Members of the Commons and the Lords wanted to establish a British Church of a Calvinist nature. Certain English clergymen involved knew Calvinist practice in Scotland and France well and could speak French. Other clergy helping them in this regard were Huguenots in England.

In 1660 — the year of the Restoration — the Church of England’s structure was re-established along with the monarchy. Reports circulated about some of the Huguenots who had worked for Cromwell in diplomatic missions to France during the Interregnum. A few were suspected of being closet Catholics who worked against Cromwell, helping to bring about Charles II’s ascension to the throne. Others were suspected of being anti-monarchists and had to leave England for good. It was a time of religious and political intrigue. Jesuits were suspected of stirring the pot and plotting with renegade Huguenots against Cromwell.

In 1681, Charles II proposed citizenship for Huguenots. Oddly, given supposed public support of the French Protestants, legislators did nothing for the next 20 years. Favourable public opinion to the Huguenots did not extend to giving them the same rights and privileges as natural-born Englishmen, especially in London:

Any Englishman proposing such an act, was upbraided as an Esau, guilty of flinging away precious means of provision for himself and his family, the restrictions for foreigners being providential blessings for Englishmen. Any Bill to give foreigners a share of the Englishman s right was unpopular with the City of London, and with all boroughs and corporations.

In 1694, a naturalisation Bill was quietly dropped before the requisite readings could begin.

Therefore, it was only by through special measures — patent-letters from the King or private Acts of Parliament — that individual Huguenots, families and small groups could become citizens of England.

What follows is the text of a King’s Letter granting citizenship to one Peter de Lainc (emphases mine):

CHARLES, R. In pursuance of our Order of Council, made the 28th day of July last past [1681], in favour and for the relief and support of poore distressed protestants, who by reason of the rigours and severities which are used towards them upon the account of their Religion shall be forced to quitt their native country and shall desire to shelter themselves under our Royall protection and free exercise of their religion, of whom Peter de Lainc Esq., French Tutor to our dearest brother James Duke of York his children, is one, as appears by sufficient certificate produced to one of our principall Secretarys of State, and that he hath received the Holy Communion. Our will and pleasure is that you prepare a Bill for our royall signature, to pass our Create Scale, containing our grant for the making him the sayd Peter de Lainc, being an Alien borne, a free denizen of this oure kingdome of England, and that he have and enjoy all rights, priviledges and immunities as other free Denizens do. Provided he, the said Peter de Laine, live and continue with his family in this our kingdome of England, or elsewhere within our Dominions ; the said denization to be forthwith past under our great Scale without any fees or other charges whatsoever to be paid by him. For which this shall be your warrant. Dated at Whitehall, the 14th day of October, 1681.

By his Majesties Command,

To our Attorney or Sollicitor General.” I,. JENKINS.

Those naturalised included doctors, inventors, teachers, tutors, watch-makers, jewellers, tailors and  wig-makers.

In the 18th century, some Huguenot clergymen joined the Churches of England or Scotland. One prominent case concerned The Duke of Devonshire who was the patron of John-Armand du Bourdieu. The Duke gave him the Rectory of Sawtrey-Moynes in 1701, where du Bourdieu remained until he died in 1726.

Surnames became anglicised in some cases, for example:

As to the surname, Cabibel, I have often thought that the important modern name, Cabbel, was derived from it. As a beginning of changing French names into English equivalents, observe the entry “John Greene alias Vert.”

Queen Anne’s reign (1702-1714) produced little or nothing in the way of Huguenot naturalisation in the early years. Nonetheless, they were considered responsible and productive persons, as if they were English.

Finally, in 1709, a group of MPs managed to get a citizenship measure passed, the Bill for the Naturalization of Foreign Protestants:

The Bill became an Act of Parliament on the 23d March 1709; the qualification was the taking of the usual oaths, and there was also a Proviso, “that no person shall be naturalized, &c., unless he shall have received the Sacrament in some Protestant or Reformed congregation within this kingdom”.

The fee was sixpence.

Not every Huguenot took advantage of this long-awaited opportunity. Some hoped to return to France. Taking English citizenship would annul their French nationality.

Some Huguenots went to live in Ireland early on as administrators for Elizabeth I. Others went in commercial capacities or were given property. Later, Huguenot officers were enlisted to help fight in the Battle of the Boyne under General Schomberg for William of Orange. These officers were well-received and known for their military prowess and self-discipline. Some went on to serve in the West Indies and others to fight against France in 1706.

One example of the high esteem the English nobility had for these men concerns a Major Ovray at the end of his career:

The surname Ouvry occurs in the registers under the various spellings of Oufrey, Oufry, Ovre, Ouvres, Overy. On 5th June 1708, the Duke of Marlborough writes to the Earl of Pembroke, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, in favour of Major Ovray, who, having served the crown for thirty-six years was about to retire from the army in order to settle in Ireland, and “always behaved himself, as his officers inform me, with honour and reputation.” The purport of the Duke s request to the Earl is. “Bestow upon him some mark of your favour and goodness. Enable him to support himself and his family with comfort, and in a manner some way suitable to the character he has borne.”

What a lovely sentiment and way in which to recognise Huguenot character.

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