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Anne Vaughan Locke and Her Basket of Rocks

15. November 2017

Columns, Gentle Reformation,

  —Nathan Eshelman

“The most perfect school of Christ…since the days of the apostles.”1 Many have heard these words concerning Reformation-era Geneva, penned by John Knox to his friend Anne Vaughan Locke.

Anne Locke (1530–c.1590) was a woman who would come to Geneva, Switzerland, to escape Queen Mary’s persecutions raging throughout her homeland of England. Locke was a wealthy woman born into a family that served Henry VIII. Her first husband was a merchant and a man of financial means. Locke was educated and godly, and, as a woman in the days of reforming the British church, her gender would not keep her from being a major contributor. John Knox, saying that “she was pious and learned,”2 recognized her contributions to reform. She was a patron of the work of reformation; she was a poet, a Christian thinker, and a laborer in the kingdom through translation and publication.

As Locke made her way to Geneva to escape persecution, she did not leave her pen idle. Locke busied herself with translating the works of John Calvin from French into English. Outside of the English translation of Calvin’s Institutes, her contribution to the English Reformation may have been greater than any others’ coming from the continent. Making Calvin accessible in English fueled the fire of reformation on ...

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