Faithful Friday: Charles Chauncey

By Ian Wilson

Charles Chauncey was one of the austere clergymen of what would one day become the United States of America. Born in 1592 in Hertfordshire, England, Chauncey was known as something of a trouble-maker in the church of England. He was taken to ecclesiastical court twice during his career for refusing to compromise on his beliefs. He did, however, publicly recant; a decision he would regret the rest of his life. 

In 1638, after facing church discipline a second time, he sailed for Plymouth colony, serving as associate pastor until his convictions put him at odds with the church authorities once again. Chauncey insisted that only full-immersion baptism was valid, and furthermore, he refused to baptize the children of non-communicants. 

In 1654, Chauncey was offered the presidency of Harvard college, which he accepted, serving until his death in 1672. He was apparently well-beloved; after a year or two of serving in that position, according to Cotton Mather, “the church kept a whole day of thanksgiving to God for the mercy which they had enjoyed in his being there.”

May Chauncey’s scholarship and strength of conviction serve as an example to all of us.


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