On this date in 1560, the English publisher John Day recorded an entry for a new book of sermons by John Calvin, translated from the original French into English. The translation was not produced by a Reformed minister, or an academic professor, but by a very energetic woman, Anne Locke, who used her skills and resources to promote the Reformed faith throughout several decades of the sixteenth century.
Anne and her husband Harry were early supporters of reform, even harboring John Knox, prior to his escape to the Continent. Knox subsequently wrote to Anne Locke his famous words, that he had found in Geneva “the most perfect school of Christ that ever was in the earth since the days of the apostles.”
On 8 May 1557, Locke arrived at Geneva with her son and small daughter, although the daughter died within four days of the arrival. Anne became a member of the congregation of English exiles that was co-pastored by Christopher Goodman and John Knox.
While in Geneva, Locke found benefit from Calvin’s French sermons on Isaiah 38. These sermons stress God’s healing of the soul: “Such remedy as here is contained can no philosopher, no infidel, no Papist [ad]minister,” she writes in the book’s dedication.
After the death of Mary, most of the exiles returned to England, while Knox entered the battle to reform Scotland. Knox maintained correspondence with Anne Locke, not only regarding spiritual matters, but as a means of fostering the English-Scottish alliance so crucial to the Scottish Reformation. As a well-placed citizen, Locke furnished information and support to Knox and the Scottish Protestants.
Her endeavors, combined with the labor of many others, undergirded the initial Reformation in England, and laid the groundwork for seventeenth-century Presbyterianism in England. The exact date of Anne’s death is not known. Nevertheless, she lived “through the reigns of four Tudor monarchs during a time when her nation was struggling to establish its political and religious identity. As poet, translator, political activist, and committed nonconformist, Anne Locke played her part in that struggle, aligning herself to the end with the cause of Reformed Protestantism in England” (Susan Felch).
© 2021 The Orthodox Presbyterian Church