Grandfather Cragge: No Preacher

This autumn I preached at Quernmore, a pretty village nestling on the hills of Wyresdale between Bowland’s trough and Lancaster. On the way to the Methodist chapel, I passed by the parish church. My 12x great grandfather, Rev John Cragge (born c. 1570) was the minister here in 1606. Technically, he was a ‘perpetual curate’, which meant they could pay him a smaller wage, whilst the area’s tithes went to the Vicar of Lancaster, in whose large parish this chapel was built.

In the Kenyon manuscript, he is described as ‘Minister at Wyresdale but noe preacher’. What an intriguing description! Was he some idle leech, living off others’ labour while offering nothing in return? Or was he incapable of stringing a decent sentence together? Perhaps, being a poor curate, he wasn’t so well educated and felt unqualified to expound the oracles of God.

On the other hand, the comment may refer to the quality of his efforts rather than the shortage or willingness. Perhaps lacking eloquence and articulation, he satisfied the needs of the Wyresdale farmers, but not the more sophisticated puritan of the towns. He served the area till his death in 1630. 

When the Wyresdale chapel was investigated by parliamentary commissioners in 1650, they stated:

"The Minister of the said chapel is Mr. Thomas Denny, B.A., who has been a preaching Minister there about twelve years."

I’d like to think I’ll meet Grandfather Cragge in heaven one day; assuming he was a man who trusted Christ even though he could barely proclaim Him, I see no reason why I won’t. Still, I’m glad a better qualified man took over his pulpit after his passing. Pastors and ministers do many noble things, but preaching Christ is surely chief among them.

Then faith is by hearing, and hearing by the word of God -Romans 10:17 (Geneva, a translation Rev Cragge should have known).

I will let Quernmore folk judge for themselves whether I inherited my ancestor’s preaching abilities.