Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Child, John (1638?-1684)

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CHILD, JOHN (1638?–1684), baptist preacher, born at Bedford about 1638, was apprenticed to a handicraft; after a while he adopted another calling, and removed to Newport Pagnel, Buckinghamshire, where he lived for some years, married twice, had several children, and increased in wealth. He held 'the baptism of believers,' joining himself to the baptists, or, as they were then generally called, 'anabaptists,' and for some years was in the habit of preaching occasionally. About 1679 he removed to London. Fear of cution and anxiety to better his position led him in 1682 to publish ‘A Second Argument for a more Full and Firm Union amongst all good Protestants,’ in which he argued against dissent from the church of England and ‘slandered his brethren.’ He appears to have published an earlier book of the same character, but neither of his pamphlets has been discovered by the writer of this notice. The idea that he had acted the part of a traitor preyed upon his mind. He fell into religious mania, and hanged himself in his house on the night of 3 Oct. 1684. A broadside was published the same year on the subject of his death, and after the declaration of indulgence and the subsequent increase in strength of the dissenting interest, pamphlets on Child’s ‘fearful estate' obtained a large circulation.

[‘A Warning from God to all Apostates . . . wherein the fearful states of Francis Spira and John Child are compared,' broadside, 1684. ‘The Mischief of Persecution exemplified by a true Narrative of Mr. John Child,’ 1688; the writers, Thomas Plant and Benjamin Dennis, ministers, add a postscript to the effect that this book had been written before, but could not be published until the king, ‘to his immortal honour.' put forth the Declaration of Indulgence. ‘A Relation of the Fearful Estate of Francis Spira . . .as also . . . of Mr. John Child,’ 1715, 1718, 1734 12mo, 1770 24mo; the preface to the reader is signed B. H. (Benjamin Harris, printer ?); the first part is a reprint of ‘ A Relation of the Fearful Estate of Francis Spira,’ 1640, with preface signed N. B. (Nathaniel Bacon), and dated 5 April 1638.]

W. H.