Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Clapham, Henoch

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CLAPHAM, HENOCH (fl. 1600), theological writer, appears to have been in 1595 the pastor of a congregation of English-speaking people in Amsterdam, for in that year was printed a ‘Sommons to Doome's-daie, sent unto his beloved England as a memoriall of his deepe printed Love and Loyaltie, by Henoch Clapham.’ This was published at Edinburgh by Hebert Waldegrave, and contains a refutation of ‘Napier's vain notion that the Latter Day, or end of the world, is covertly indicated in the Scriptures.’ In 1596 the same printer published, by the same author, ‘His Sinners Sleep, wherein Christ willing her to arise receiveth but an untoward answer,’ and also ‘A Briefe of the Bible’s Historie drawne first into English Poesy and then illustrated by apt Annotations.’ This is Clapham’s best known but not most interesting work. Other editions appeared in 1603, 1608, and 1639. Each edition has various additions to and improvements upon the preceding one. The first part of the first edition contains a dedication to the Right Worshipful Master Thomas Mylot, Esquier, signed ‘your poore unworthy kinsman.’ The dedication of the second part is to ‘one of her Majesty’s chief commissioners in causes ecclesiastical,' Richard Topclyf, Esquier, and thanks him for having been ‘so ready to stir up the queen’s honourable counsell (if not also her majesty’s own person) to commiserate his dungeon estate,’ ‘whereby I obtained in all good conscience happy deliverance.’ In 1597 was published at Amsterdam ‘Bibliotheca Theologica: or a Librarye Theological; containing “a general analysis or resolution,” and “a briefe elucidation of the most sacred chapters of Elohim, his Bible; drawen for the use of yonge Christians, specially of the poorer sorte una le to purchase variety of holy men theyr writings.”’ This was probably the first draft of a book published by Clapham in 1601 with the title ‘Aelohim-triune, displayed by his workes Physicall and Meta-pgysicall, in a Poems of diverse forme, … together with necessarie marginall notes for relieving of the young student.’ In 1597 there also appeared ‘ Theological Axioms or Conclusions, publikly controverted, discussed, and concluded by that poore English Congregation in Amstelredam, to whom H. C. for the present administereth the Ghospel. Together with an Examination of the saide conclusions by Henoch Clapham.' To this is added ‘The Carpenter.’ In 1598, at Amsterdam, was published ‘The Syn aginst the Holy Ghoste made manifest, &c., Eccles. vii. 18, 19.’ In 1600 appeared ‘Antidoton, or a sovraigne remedie against schisme and heresie.’ In 1603 Clapham was actively engaged in ministerial work in London when the city was attacked by the plague. His experiences during the epidemic induced him to publish ‘An Epistle discoursing upon the present Pestilence, teaching what it is, and how the people of God should carrie themselves towards God and their Neighbour therein.’ In the dedication of this Clapham states that he has ‘been sent to Coventry by the Brownists,’ probably because of the ‘Antidoton,' but the present tract brought him worse trouble. He argues that a christian who dies of the plague shows in so dying ‘a want of faith,’ but not to such an extent as to imperil his soul. Clapham was misunderstood and thrown into prison in November 1603 on the charge of increasing the panic caused by the epidemic. Here he remained for nearly a year, and wrote a tract in 1604 entitled ‘His Demaundes and Answeres touching the Pestilence, methodically handled, as his time and meanes could permit.’ The book is edited by some friend of Clapham’s, who gives only his initials, and contains an account by Clapham of the injustices he had suffered, with an elaborate and generally very sensible discussion of the plague itself, and asks why he should be left in prison for doing his duty ‘when almost none els would.’ In a tract dated 1605 he speaks of himself as ‘at the beginning of his third year’s bonds,’ but shortly after this he must have been set at liberty, for in 1608 the preface to his ‘Errour on the Left Hand’ is dated ‘from my house at Norburne, East Kent, 8 of June.’ In Hasted's ‘Kent’ we find that Henry Clapham was appointed vicar of Northbourne by the archbishop of Canterbury in 1607. Henry is evidently a mistake for Henoch. His successor was appointed in 1614, which is probably the date of Clapham’s death. he book published in 1608 contains two parts: the first, ‘Errour on the Right Hand through a Preposterous Zeale,’ the second, ‘Errour on the Left Hand through a Frozen Securitie.’ This is the most valuable of all Clapham's works; it contains a series of dialogues between representatives of existing religious and irreligious opinions in England—Anabaptist, Legatine-Arrian, Familist, Romanist, Libertinus, Atheos. Mediocritie speaks for the author, while Malcontent and Flyer stand for ‘the Nickafidge,’ the undecided man. This book and the tracts on the plague are full of interest for the student of the times. Besides the works mentioned already Clapham published in 1605 ‘Doctor Andros, his Prosopopeia Answered, and necessarily directed to his Majestic for removing of Catholike Scandale,’ and ‘Sacred Policie, directed of dutie to our sweet young Prince Henry;’ in 1609, 'A Chronologicall Discourse, touching the Church, Christ, Anti-Christ, Gog and Magog, &c.,’ which was apparently preceded by an epistle ‘to such as are troubled in minde about the stirres in our church.’ All Clapham's works contain numerous dedications, prologues, and epilogues, frequently in verse, and occasionally some not very witty epigrams; his erudition is considerable, and he displays some knowledge of Hebrew.

[Catalogues Brit. Mus. and Bodleian Libraries; Ames's Typogr. (Herbert), passim; Hasted's Kent, iv. 156; Hunter’s Chorus Vatum in Brit. Mus. MS. Addit. 24489.]

R. B.