Knox, his  early days in England.

It is very
easy to think of John Knox as being involved only in the
Scottish Reformation along with the Lords of the
Congregation. But Knox  spent several years in
England before his appearance on the Scottish scene and
had become well known there, sufficient to be appointed a
chaplain to King Edward VI. In this respect he exercised a
considerable influence in the Church of England which was
subject of petitions to Parliament for reforms by the
Puritans and other non conformists. Their particular
common cause was to remove any remaining signs of popery.
Inevitably Knox became involved on several fronts.

England was
an obvious and convenient sanctuary for those fleeing from
oppression in Scotland. But it was not a bed of roses in
the time of Henry VIII despite his renunciation of the
Pope. The newly formed Church of England, although
nominally Protestant, was a mixed bag of rules and
regulation under a new English Pope. Henry was arrogant
and violent in the exercise of his new powers over
religion  and hopelessly confused in his seeking to
prove his opposition to Luther and maintain a fealty of
sorts to Catholicism – in the same Parliament acts were
produced  against the authority of the Pope and also
against the tenets of Luther. It was for this attack on
Luther that the Pope conferred the title “Defender of the
Faith” which continues to appear on British coinage to
this very day. The Protestants in Scotland were highly
dissatisfied with the bastard religion that Henry had
created and were relatively pleased when the young Edward
VI  came to the throne in 1547. The succession meant
that Archbishop Cranmer, who was King Edward`s tutor, was
able to promote the Reformation in England.

Knox had
gathered a reputation from his preaching at St Andrews as
well as a modest fame from his imprisonment in the French
galleys. He was readily received on his return to England
and appointed to Berwick on Tweed where he laboured hard
to defeat the dregs of popery. His efforts were especially
noted among the soldiers of the garrison who had been
noted for their licentiousness and turbulence ( disorder
and fighting). His impact was likewise great on the local
clerics who were galled by Knox`s fervour and success, and
through them arose complaints to Tonstal, Bishop of
Durham. The bishop has been described as the patron of
bigotry and superstition, and could not take direct action
against Knox because he had been appointed by the ruling
Council (there was Regency for Edward VI). However, Knox
was called before an assembly in Newcastle on 4 April 1550
to explain  his teaching that the mass was
idolatrous.  Never one to hold back Knox proceeded to
dismantle the opposition using the Scriptures and a sharp
tongue to silence the bishop and his  learned
assistants. As a result of his defence Knox`s fame grew
throughout England. In December 1551 he was appointed
chaplain in ordinary to King Edward VI  with an
annual salary of forty pounds. Under the protection of the
king the six chaplains were vitriolic at times and roundly
condemned the excesses of the Court and the continued
Romish practices. Although this inevitably gained them
enemies, their upstanding  and public criticism was
well received among the people at large.

In 1552
Knox was consulted about a revision of  the Book of
Common Prayer and some of his concerns noted.  His
influence brought change to the Communion, excluding the
notion of the corporal presence of Christ in the
sacrament, and guarding against the adoration  of the
elements. Kneeling at their reception was done away with.
This of course infuriated the Papists. Knox was extremely
diligent and in addition to ordinary services on the
Sabbath he preached regularly on week days and frequently
on every day of the week. He was also employed in
providing religious advice in between finding time for his
own studies. His work was recognised by the governing
council who wrote letters in support of his work and 
ensured that he received his salary timeously. In
September 1552, as a mark of the council`s favour they
granted a patent to Knox`s brother, William, to trade to
any part of England in a vessel of one hundred tons

It was
during his stay in Berwick that Knox met with his wife to
be, Marjory Bowes. She was the fifth daughter of Richard
Bowes, Captain of Norham Castle, the younger son of 
Sir Ralph Bowes of Streatlam Castle; her mother was
Elizabeth, daughter  and co heiress of Sir Roger Aske
of Aske. The marriage did not take place until either late
in 1555 or early 1556, as the proposed marriage was not to
the liking of the Bowes family;  eventually Marjory
and her mother split from the family and went to Geneva
with Knox arriving there in September 1556.

The death
of the Duke of Somerset as protector (regent) for Edward
VI saw the emergence of the Catholic Duke of
Northumberland to power. He was an apostate in the sense
that his avowed support for reformation was a sham in
order to get power. His chance to attack Knox came when at
Christmas 1552, Knox preached against the obstinacy of
papists and asserted that they were enemies of the gospel
and secret traitors to the crown. They cared not who who
ruled over them provided they had their idolatry. This
freedom of speech  resulted in a summons to London to
explain himself, where the council saw the malice of his
accusers and found him not guilty. 

returned to London in April 1553 ostensibly to take up the
living at All Hallows in the city. The Duke of
Northumberland was irate at the appointment – made at the
direction of the council, and tried to prevent it. But it
was Knox who turned it down even though it had been
granted at the behest of the young King Edward. Offence
was taken and again he was summoned before the council to
explain himself. The main thread of his objection was the
need for reformation in the Church of England which, in
its present condition, militated against the proper
exercise of his ministry. The council dismissed him with a
mild warning that he should come to terms with the
Communion according to the established rites (including
kneeling). He was then offered a bishopric by King Edward
which he rejected on the grounds that it was “destitute of
divine authority in itself, and its exercise in the
English Church to be inconsistent with ecclesiastical
canons.”  In his last sermon before King Edward, Knox
savaged the abuse of power by crafty counsellors and
called them dissembling hypocrites and then proceeded to
denounce the Duke of Northumberland and the Marquis of

the young Edward VI died on 6 July 1553  and his
sister Mary Tudor succeeded to the throne. A staunch
Catholic she soon set about restoring the Church of Rome
and earning her title “Bloody Mary”. This was a terrible
blow for the English Reformation and for Knox who was
forced to seek sanctuary abroad, landing in Dieppe 
on 20 January 1554. before departing however, Knox issued
his “Faithful Admonition” and declared that “the devil
rageth in his obedient servants, wily Winchester, dreaming
Durham and bloody Bonner, with the rest of their bloody
butcherly brood”. He denounced Queen Mary for her renewal
of persecutions and called her ” a breaker of promises and
designated her ” that most unhappy and wicked woman.”

So ended
Knox`s direct personal involvement in the English
Reformation. However, his influence continued while abroad
following the establishment of the English Church in
Geneva. Here Knox and his co-minister Christopher Goodman, 
taught and preached a purer reformed church that was
stripped of all signs of popery. Thus, when Mary Tudor
died in 1558, there was a flow of English exiles back to
their homeland who wanted change to the ritual, 
liturgy, discipline and government of the Church of