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Christopher Love (1618 – 22 August 1651) was a Welsh Protestant preacher and advocate of Presbyterianism at the time of the English Civil War. In 1651 he was executed by the government, after it was discovered that he had been in correspondence with the exiled Stuart court. He went to his death as a hero and martyr of the Presbyterian faction which had petitioned in vain for his pardon.
He became domestic chaplain to John Warner, the sheriff of London. There he met his future wife Mary, daughter of Matthew Stone, formerly a merchant in London, who was the sheriff's ward. Love received an invitation to become lecturer at St. Ann's, Aldersgate, but was for three years refused his allowance by William Juxon, the bishop of London; Laud had warned Juxon to keep an eye on Love. Declining episcopal ordination, he went to Scotland to seek it at the hands of the presbytery; but the Scottish Church had decreed to ordain only those who settled among them. On his return to England, about 1641, he preached at Newcastle before the mayor and aldermen, when he expressed himself so freely against the Book of Common Prayer, that he was committed to gaol. He was subsequently removed to London on a writ of Habeas Corpus, was tried in the king's bench, and was acquitted. Around the outbreak of the First English Civil War he preached as a lecturer at Tenterden, Kent, on the lawfulness of a defensive war, and was accused of treason; but he was acquitted and recovered his costs. Shortly afterwards he was made chaplain to Colonel John Venn's regiment, and became preacher to the garrison of Windsor Castle.
He was one of the first to receive presbyterian ordination, under the new organization, on 23 January 1644 at Aldermanbury, London, from Thomas Horton; and became pastor of St Lawrence Jewry. According to an old history of the Assembly by William Maxwell Hetherington Love was a superadded member of the Westminster Assembly. However, this assertion was questioned by Alexander Ferrier Mitchell, for lack of evidence  and the more careful edition of the minutes of the Westminster Assembly by Chad van Dixhorn shows that Hetherington was in error and Love was not made a member of the Assembly.
He preached an inflammatory sermon in Uxbridge on 31 January 1645, the day on which the commissioners for the Treaty of Uxbridge arrived. He asserted in his Vindication that his preaching there was accidental; he was sent for by the House of Commons and confined to the house during the negotiations. On 25 November 1645 he preached before the Commons, and was not accorded the customary vote of thanks. He offended the Independents; and when they gained the ascendency he was committed to custody; he was twice subsequently cited before the committee for plundered ministers, and although he was discharged, his movements were watched.
He became involved in a treasonable correspondence with the Presbyterians of Scotland to restore Charles II. Love, with many others, was arrested on 7 May 1651. Others caught up included: John Angier and other Manchester presbyterians, imprisoned in Liverpool; Thomas Cawton the elder; Arthur Jackson; William Jenkyn; Ralph Robinson; Thomas Watson.
A Colonel Silius Titus had been commissioned by certain presbyterians to carry letters to Henrietta Maria in France; the queen's replies were conveyed by Colonel Ashworth, and were read in Love's house in London. On 18 December 1650 a pass was obtained for Love's wife to enable her to proceed to Amsterdam. Further, Love had received letters from Scottish presbyterians who were friendly to Charles II, and consultations had been held in his house (among other places) regarding the demands made on the English presbyterians by Argyll and others for money for the purchase of arms.
Love was ordered to be arrested on 14 May 1651, and was committed close prisoner to the Tower of London for high treason. He was tried before the high court of justice in late June, and 5 July, defended by Matthew Hale; presiding at the trial was Richard Keble. He was condemned to be executed on 16 July. Robert Hammond then wrote to Oliver Cromwell asking for leniency for Love. He was subsequently reprieved for a month, and then again for a week. To the last of Love's petitions to the parliament, 16 August, he appended a narrative of the whole plot, in which he virtually acknowledges all the charges made against him at the trial.
He was chosen to make an example of, to check Presbyterian agitation. He was finally executed on Tower Hill, on 23 August 1651, attended by Simeon Ashe and Edmund Calamy. He was privately buried, 25 August, at St. Lawrence Church. His funeral sermon was preached by Thomas Manton. Robert Wilde wrote a poem The Tragedy of Mr. Christopher Love at Tower Hill (1651). Love condemned himself by refusal to agree not to continue to commit treason against the Republic, but, as true Presyterian, he wanted royalty restored.
Love had five children, one of whom was born after his death.
His sermons were published, after his death, by leading Presbyterians of London (Edmund Calamy, Simeon Ashe, Jeremiah Whitaker, William Taylor, and Allan Geare). The most important of his works are:
Short and plaine Animadversions on some Passages in Mr. Dels' Sermon (1646) was a reply to William Dell. A modest and clear Vindication of the ... ministers of London from the scandalous aspersions of John Price (1649) (attributed to Love) replied to the Clerico-classicum of John Price.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: "Love, Christopher". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Jackson, Samuel Macauley, ed. (1914). "article name needed". New Schaff–Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (third ed.). London and New York: Funk and Wagnalls.