Ellis, John (1606?-1681) (DNB00)

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ELLIS, JOHN (1606?–1681), author of ‘Vindiciæ Catholicæ,’ was probably descended from a younger son of the family which was long seated at Kiddall Hall, Berwick-in-Elmet, West Riding of Yorkshire. He was fellow and B.D. of St. Catharine Hall, Cambridge, university proctor, and chaplain to Archbishop Abbot. At the commencement of the civil war he took sides with the parliament and was appointed to preach the fast sermon on 22 Feb. 1643. It was published as ‘The Sole Path to a Sound Peace, recommended to the Honourable House of Commons in a Sermon [on Mic. v. 5]. … By John Ellis, Jun., Preacher of the Word at Cambridge,’ 4to, London, 1643. His next work was eagerly read and discussed, ‘Vindiciæ Catholicæ, or the Rights of Particular Churches rescued: and asserted against that meer … Notion of one Catholick, Visible, Governing Church: the foundation of the … Presbyterie: wherein … all the Arguments for it, produced by the Rev. Apollonius, M. Hudson, M. Noyes, the London Ministers, and others, are examined and dissolved,’ 4to, London, 1647, dedicated ‘to the Parliament of England and Assembly of Divines.’ Samuel Hudson replied with ‘A Vindication’ in 1650. By 1659, when holding the third portion of the rectory of Waddesdon, Buckinghamshire, Ellis had thought fit to change sides. In the preface to a little work entitled ‘The Pastor and the Clerk; or a Debate (real) concerning Infant-Baptisme,’ published in June of that year, he took occasion to ‘retract and recall, repent of and bewayl whatsoever he had either spoken or written for the fomenting the late unnatural divisions in the State and Church … particularly what he had said of the one in a “Sermon” … as also what he had disputed for the other in a Book entituled “Vindiciæ Catholicæ,” in answer to Mr. Hudson's “Essence of Catholick visible Church.”’ He also announced his ‘Retractations and Repentings’ on the title-page. As a reward of his apostasy he was allowed to retain his living at the Restoration, and was presented by the king to the first and second portions of Waddesdon, 24 Oct. and 8 Nov. 1661, thus becoming sole rector. He was violently attacked by his former brethren, especially by Henry Hickman in his ‘Apologia pro Ministris in Anglia (vulgo) Non-conformists,’ 1664. Ellis died at Waddesdon on 3 Nov. 1681, aged 75, and was buried on the 8th in the north side of the chancel of the church, within the altar rails (Lipscomb, Buckinghamshire, i. 496, 502, 506, 508). By his wife Susanna, daughter of William Welbore of Cambridge, he had eleven children; John [q. v.], William [q. v.], Philip [q. v.], and Welbore [q. v.], all separately noticed, and five other children survived him. Mrs. Ellis died at Cambridge on 29 April 1700, aged 77 (a copy of her will is in Addit. MS. 28932, f. 15). A few of Ellis's letters to his children and Dr. Oldys, dated 1673, 1675, and 1680, are preserved in the British Museum (Addit. MS. 28930, ff. 32, 34, 52, 153). Wood's editor, who strenuously defends Ellis's return to conformity, gives him the character of ‘a very pious and learned man.’

[Ellis Correspondence, ed. Hon. G. J. W. Agar Ellis, 1829; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iii. 710–11, iv. 371–2; Addit. MS. 28937.]

G. G.