Murton, John (ca. 1583-1626)
John Murton was an English refugee who belonged to a congregation of Independents in Amsterdam in the early 17th century. At first this church had some interest in the Mennonites, but after John Smyth with a number of adherents left the Independents, planning a union with the Waterlander Mennonites (effected in 1615), Thomas Helwys, then the leader of the Independent group, turned more and more to Calvinism. In 1611 the Independents returned to England; about 1614 Helwys died and Murton became the leader of the group in London (occasionally called an Anabaptist congregation). Murton was an inspiring leader and during his leadership, which lasted until 1626, the Independent congregation, which met at Newgate in London, flourished, though persecution by the state church and internal controversy continued to weaken it. Murton protested against the persecutions in an address to the King of England pleading for freedom of religion: "A most humble supplication of many of the king Majestys loyal subjects . . . who are persecuted only for differing in religion." Still more than his predecessor Helwys, Murton was in sympathy with the doctrines of Calvinism. In 1620 he published A description of what God hath predestinated concerning man. Not all the members agreed with this Calvinism; this was apparently the reason why shortly after 1620 Elias Tookey and 15 others were expelled. They held the Anabaptist views of free will and believers' baptism, and in 1624-1626 contacted the Dutch Mennonites for a union, which, however, was not effected.
Of Murton's personal life not much is known. On 23 August 1608 he was married at Amsterdam to Jane Hodgkin. The marriage certificate says that he was born about 1583 and had lived at Gainsborough, England, before he came to Amsterdam. During his stay in Amsterdam he was a furrier. He is said to have been a zealous and capable man.
Hoop Scheffer, Jacob Gijsbert de and William Elliot Griffis. History of the Free churchmen called the Brownists, Pilgrim fathers and Baptists in the Dutch republic, 1581-1701. Ithaca, NY: Andrus & Church, : 148, 153, 178 f., 190, no. 53.
Hoop Scheffer, Jacob Gijsbert de. Inventaris der Archiefstukken berustende bij de Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente to Amsterdam. 2 v. Amsterdam: Uitgegeven en ten geschenke aangeboden door den Kerkeraad dier Gemeente, 1883-1884: II, Nos. 1351, 1367.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 790. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: van der Zijpp, Nanne. "Murton, John (ca. 1583-1626)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 18 June 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/M8685.html.
APA style: van der Zijpp, Nanne. (1957). Murton, John (ca. 1583-1626). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 June 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/M8685.html.