The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 12. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1801.
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John Whitgift to William Juxon
74. JOHN WHITGIFT, S. T. P. bishop of Worcester, was next preferred to this see, being promoted to it on Sept. 24, 1583. (fn. 1)
He was born at Great Grimsby, in Lincolnshire, and was first educated at St. Anthony's school, and afterwards at Pembroke hall, in Cambridge, under the famous martyr John Bradford, and became fellow of Peter-house, then in 1567 master of Pembrokehall, and the same year admitted S. T. P. about three months after which he became head of Trinity college. Being chaplain to Dr. Cox, bishop of Ely, he was promoted by him to a prebend in that church, and to the rectory of Taversham, near Cambridge.
He bore the office of vice-chancellor of that university twice, viz. in 1571 and 1574, and adorned both chairs of the divinity professor in it, having been first reader of the lady Margaret's divinity lecture, and afterwards the queen's public professor of divinity. At this time he was made one of the queen's chaplains, and promoted by her to the deanry of Lincoln, when archbishop Parker granted him a dispensation, dated Oct. 31, 1571, that with that deanry, a prebend of Ely, the mastership of Trinity college, in Cambridge, and the rectory of Taversham, he might hold any third benefice, with licence to exchange, and to be non-resident upon any of them, (fn. 2) and this seems to have been granted by the free favour of the archbishop, without his seeking after it, nor do I find he made any use of it. In that year, 1577, he was consecrated bishop of Worcester, and the next year was constituted vice-president of the marches of Wales. Whilst archbishop Grindal lay under the queen's displeasure, she designed bishop Whitgift should be directly translated to the see of Canterbury, on his intended resignation; and to this he was strongly importuned not only by several honourable persons about the queen's person, but by the archbishop himself, who, out of a due sense of his own uneasy situation from the queen's displeasure, and of his own years and infirmities, was willing to retire from his high station, and spend his days in a private retirement, being content to receive a yearly pension from the queen for his support. But bishop Whitgift could not be prevailed on to accept of this offer upon any condition whatever, during the life of another, who was in the just possession of it; however, he did not wait long before the death of the archbishop removed this difficulty and he was promoted to the archicpiscopal dignity in 1583, as above-mentioned; two years after which he was sworn of the privy council. Soon after his promotion to this see, he put in practice his design for the benefit of those poor vicars, who were but slenderly provided for, by the endowments of their vicarages, or the stipends of their curacies; for which purpose when he renewed the leases of his appropriated churches, he abated much of the fines for the increase of their pensions and salaries.
On the queen's declaring her inclinations to appoint him lord chancellor of England, and the university of Oxford having at the same time nominated him their chancellor, he declined both those honourable offices, recommending Sir Christopher Hatton to both of them, upon whom they were conferred. He presided over this church for the space of twenty years and about five months, and died at Lambeth on Feb. 28, 1603, (fn. 3) being then above seventy years old, and was buried at Croydon, in the parish church there, where his tomb still remains in the south isle, or bishops chancel, having his effigies lying on it in his robes, his epitaph being composed by his chaplain Dr. Benjamin Charier. His daughter Elizabeth married Wymond Bradbury, esq. who died in 1612, and was buried in Croydon church.
At his first coming to the see, he found it overcharged in the queen's books, and procured an abatement of 100l. of the first fruits for himself and his successors, and recovered soon after of the queen a former part of their possessions, viz. Long Beech wood, in this county, being 1000 acres, detained from his predecessors, and farmed out by the comptroller of the queen's houshold. Archbishop Whitgift resided frequently at Croydon, and more than once entertained the queen there, particularly in the year 1600.
He founded and endowed in his life time, being in 1596, an hospital for a warden and twenty-eight poor persons, brothers and sisters, the warden's salary being 20l. and the other members 5l. each, and a grammar school near it, at Croydon, with a convenient house for the schoolmaster, who is likewise chaplain, and a stipend of 20l. per annum; the building was finished in 1599, and cost the archbishop 2700l. the lands with which it was endowed being 184l. 4s. per annum, and they remain at this time lasting monuments of his piety and charity. He gave some of his books to Pembroke-hall and Trinity college, in Cambridge, and some estate to that of Peter-house, in the same university. Sir Henry Wotton, as we learn from his remains, says, and he was both able to know and judge of this archbishop, that he was of a primitive temper, when the church in lowliness of temper did flourish in high examples. (fn. 4)
Archbishop Whitgift had learning, courage and greatness of mind, sufficient for the high rank he held in the church. He was a man of quick abilities, of great good nature, of a peaceable temper, and a general scholar; and if he had not lived in those times of contention about conformity, when the factious attempts of the Puritans made rigour in a great degree necessary, he would scarcely have had a single objection made to his character, even by his adversaries. His house was a sort of academy, where young gentlemen were instructed in languages, mathematics and other scientific learning; and besides the indigent scholars, which he entertained in his family for this purpose, he supported several in the universities with exhibitions, and encouraged them in proportion to their merit and necessities. He lived in a time of public disturbance, when invasions were often threatened and insurrections at home attempted; his domestics were, on these accounts therefore trained to military exercise, his palace was well furnished with arms, and he kept a stable of managed horses. His hospitality was considerable, in which every thing shewed his generosity and the largeness of his mind, and as he was a great lover of pomp, besides the constant establishment in his family, which was princely, he usually travelled with a great retinue; he once came to Canterbury with a train of 500 horse, one hundred of which were his own domestics, so that he lived in too much splendour to be able to do any great works of charity; though besides his usual benevolence to the poor at his house, he founded the hospital and school at Croydon, as above mentioned. He was always an encourager of learned men; Stow found him a gracious patron, and dedicated his annals of queen Elizabeth to him.
Archbishop Whitgift wrote a treatise in defence of church government; his letter to Theodore Beza, dated in 1593, is printed in Battely's Appendix, as has been mentioned before; among the Harleian manuscripts, is one written by him, being his heads for a history of the pope's incroachments, and several other letters written by him, and two from Mr. Abraham Hartwell, to him, and the archbishop's answer to a book called an admonition to parliament; and among the Bodleian manuscripts, there are several treatises written by him. (fn. 5)
75. RICHARD BANCROFT, S.T.P. bishop of London, was next in 1604, promoted to this archbishopric of Canterbury. (fn. 6)He was born at Farnworth, in Lancashire, (fn. 7) and educated at Christ's, and afterwards at Jesus college, in Cambridge, where he commenced S.T.P. He had been made at times first prebendary of the cathedral church of Dublin, then rector of Taversham, in Cambridgeshire, prebendary of Durham and Westminster, treasurer of St. Paul's, London, and canon of Christ-church, in Canterbury. On May 8, 1597, being S.T.P. he was consecrated bishop of London, and thence translated to this see in 1604, and in 1608 was constituted chancellor of the university of Oxford; thus he ascended by degrees, until he was exalted to the highest dignity in the church of England, being esteemed an ornament to each preferment, which he had been at different times promoted to.
By what means he was thus advanced, Sir John Harrington, whose partiality cannot be suspected, thus informs us; he says, that the archbishop came to all his preferments very clearly, without prejudice or spoil of his churches, that by means of the lord chancellor Hatton, whose chaplain he was, queen Elizabeth came to take knowledge of his wisdom and sufficiency, especially from his writings against the Genevising and Scotizing ministers, of which king James also had heard, so that he became a favourite to both of those princes, and to the state; the seditious sectaries, (to use Judge Popham's words, who would not have them called Puritans) maligned him in libels and rhimes, laying on him the imputation of papistry (as they then did and still continue so to do on all men who cross their designs) for which, some were punished in the Star Chamber; but he was so far from being popishly affected, that it may be truly affirmed, that the greatest blow which the papists received in all queen Elizabeth's time, came from his hand, or at least from his head; for he having observed the emulation between the secular priests and Jesuits, found means to set them one against another, (Watson against Parsons) and he divided their languages so, that they can scarcely understand one another yet. In the disputations at Hampton-court, king James found him both learned and stout, and took such liking of him, that passing by the bishops of Winchester and Durham, both men of eminent learning and merit, he made choice of bishop Bancroft for the filling up of the then vacant see of Canterbury, as a man more exercised in affairs of state; to conclude with that, which the truth, rather than kindness forceth me to say, no bishop has been more vigilant in looking to his charge. Thus far Sir John Harrington, and coming from his pen, it stamps a forcible truth on the character he gives of this prelate.
Lord Clarendon, speaking of his death, in his history of the Rebellion, says, (fn. 8) at this time happened the never enough lamented death of Dr. Bancroft, that metropolitan, who understood the church excellently and had almost rescued it out of the hands of the Calvinian party, and very much subdued the unruly spirit of the non conformists by and after the conference at Hampton court, countenancing men of the greatest parts in learning and disposing the clergy to a more solid course of study, than they had been accustomed to, and if he had lived, would have quickly extinguished that fire in England which had been kindled in Geneva, or had he been succeeded by any man who understood and loved the church, that infection would easily have been kept out, which could not afterwards be so easily expelled. On the contrary, the Puritans mention him in a very different light, they say, he was naturally of a rough uncourtly temper, which was heightened by his great authority in the high commission. He had extreme high notions of government in church and state, and was strongly suspected of having cherished the king's disposition to assume a power above the laws and constitution of this country; he was most certainly, a great friend to the prerogative, and what with the want of that hospitality which becomes a bishop, what with the roughness of his temper and his high and arbitrary notions, (fn. 9) he was but little regarded in his station as head of the church. The above is a lamentable instance, let it be on which side it will, how far the rancour of party will make men deviate from the truth, in giving the characters of those in high stations, in such divided times. Archbishop Bancrost persuaded the king to found a college at Chelsea, for a certain number of learned divines, with an ample allowance of lands and privileges; but this foundation, though strongly countenanced at first, miscarried afterwards and fell to the ground.
He died of the stone at Lambeth on Nov. 2, 1610, æt. 67, and was buried in the parish church there, within the rails of the altar, where there is a memorial for him. He published a book, intitled, Dangerous Positions and Proceedings, published and practised within the island of Great Britain, under pretence of Reformation, and for the Presbyterial Discipline; and in 1593 another, called a Survey of the Pretended Holy Discipline. Among the Harleian manuscripts are some letters of this archbishop, and his will, No. 7043–8, by which it appears, that he began the foundation of the Lambeth library, which has been since so greatly increased by his successors, especially by the archbishops Abbot, Sheldon, Tenison and Secker, so that at present it consists of upwards of 700 manuscripts and 15,000 printed books.
76. GEORGE ABBOT, S. T. P. bishop of London, was next promoted to this see on April 9, 1611; he was born in 1562, at Guildford, in Surry, (fn. 10) and had his education at Oxford, where he was first fellow of Baliol, and then in 1597, elected master of University college, and commenced S. T. P. two years after which he was promoted to the deanry of Winchester, and then to that of Gloucester, and in 1609 was consecrated bishop of Lichfield and Coventry; soon after which, he was translated from thence to the see of London, and from thence to this of Canterbury, as has been already mentioned.
During the time of his being archbishop, he had the misfortune to kill a gamekeeper accidentally, in shooting at a deer, in Bianhill-park, in Hampshire, belonging to the lord Zouch. (fn. 11) This gave him a real and heartfelt concern, and brought him into great uneasi ness and trouble, which lasted during his life, and he kept the anniversary of it with the strictest fasting and humility.
In 1627, being the 1st year of king Charles's reign, being accused of remissness in his government of the church, and of favouring the Puritans; among other matters, the king inhibited him from proceeding on his metropolitical visitations, confined him to his house at Ford, in this county, and granted his commission to the bishop of London, Durham and others, to execute that jurisdiction; but the next year he was sent for by the king and reconciled to him, and was ordered to attend in his place at the council board.
He sat in this see twenty-two years, during which time he bestowed great sums of money in building and endowing an hospital at Guildford, in Surry, the place of his nativity. (fn. 12) He built likewise a conduit of stone, in the city of Canterbury, for the common good and service of it; a work of great cost, and no less benefit to the inhabitants there. He died at Croydon on August 4, 1633, aged 71, and was buried in the Lady chapel, in the church of Guildford, under a handsome monument of marble, on which is his effigies, cloathed in his pontifical ornaments, lying at full length.
Lord Clarendon has given the following account and character of this archbishop, which I shall give at large, especially as it contains an impartial account of the state of the church, at a time when the seeds of rebellion seem to have taken deep root in the constitu tion of both church and state. He says, that archbishop Abbot had sat too many years in this see, and had too great a jurisdiction over this church, though he was without any credit in the court, at the death of king James, nor had he much for many years before. He had been master of one of the poorest colleges in Oxford, and had learning sufficient for that province; he was a man of very morose manners, and a very sour aspect, which in that time was called gravity, and under the opinion of that virtue and by the recommendation of the earl of Dunbar, the king's first Scotch favourite, he was preferred by him to the bishopric of Coventry and Lichfield, and presently afterwards to that of London, before he had been parson, vicar or curate of any parish church in England, (fn. 13) or prebendary of any cathedral church, and was in truth totally ignorant of the true constitution of the church of England, and the state and interest of the clergy, as sufficiently appeared throughout the whole course of his life afterwards. That archbishop Abbot having himself made very little progress in the antient and solid study of divinity, adhered only to the doctrine of Calvin, and for his sake did not think so ill of the discipline as he ought to have done; and though many other bishops plainly discerned the mischief, which daily broke in to the prejudice of religion, by his defects and remissness, and prevented it in their own dioceses, as far as they could, yet that temper in the archbishop, whose house was a' sanctuary to the most eminent of that factious party, and who licensed their most pernicious writings, left his successor a very difficult work to do, to reform and reduce a church into order, that had been so long neglected, and that was so ill filled by many weak and more wilful churchmen. Had archbishop Bancroft, says the noble historian, been succeeded by any man, who understood and loved the church, that insection which had been kindled in Geneva, would easily have been kept out, which could not afterwards be so easily expelled; but Abbot brought none of this antidote with him, and considered the Christian religion no otherwise than as it abhorred and reviled popery, and valued those men most, who did that most suriously; for the strict observation of the discipline of the church, or the conformity to the articles or canons established, he made little enquiry and took less care. (fn. 14)
But lord Clarendon's character of archbishop Abbot, ought to be credited with much wariness; for as party zeal at this time carried men to an extraordinary length, in the characters they drew up of their friends or opposites, far beyond the lines of truth, it is no wonder that the archbishop, the head of the English church, should be as much villified by one party, as he was highly extolled by the other. Contrary to lord Clarendon's character of him, several historians, particularly bishop Godwin, A Wood, (fn. 15) Mr. Coke, and Dr. Welwood, speak of him in very honourable terms; and Dr. Warner, who has taken some pains to inves tigate the archbishop's character, concludes his account of him as follows: it is not to be wondered at, that a prelate of Abbot's principle should have little credit in the court of two such kings, who were carrying the prerogative above the law, to the destruction of civil and religious liberty, neither will that stain upon his memory remain in the least to his discredit with those who are lovers of their country, and of our present happy establishment in church and state. (fn. 16)
The several books and treatises written by archbishop Abbot were many. The different titles and the contents of them are enumerated in Wood's Athenæ Oxonienses, who makes honorable mention therein of both the archbishop and his writings. (fn. 17)
Among the Harleian manuscripts are several of his letters; his opinion and narrative of the nullity of the marriage of Robert Devereux, earl of Essex; his letter to king James I. and his speech on the toleration of Papists; notes concerning him; his funeral sermon, and other matters relating to him.
77. WILLIAM LAUD, S. T. P. bishop of London, succeeded next to this see in 1633. (fn. 18) He was born at Reading, in Berkshire, (fn. 19) and first educated at a school in that town, whence he was sent to St. John's college, in Oxford, where he successively became fellow, divinity reader, and president. He was first preferred to the vicarage of Stamford, in Northamptonshire, and was inducted to North Kilworth, in Leicestershire, which he exchanged for West Tilbury, in Essex. In 1608 he became chaplain to Dr. Neal, bishop of Rochester, who became his patron and steady friend, to whose good offices he owed all his future advancement in life, and gave him the rectory of Cookstone, in Kent, which he exchanged for that of Norton, near Sittingborne; after which he was promoted to a prebend of the church of Lincoln, and to the archdeaconry of Huntingdon. In 1609 he was made one of the king's chaplains. In 1615 he was made dean of Gloucester, and about two years afterwards exchanged his livings in Kent and Essex for the rectory of Ibstock, in Leiceshire; for all which he was indebted to the friendship of the same patron, then advanced to the see of Lincoln.
In 1620 he was installed a prebendary of Westminster, and in 1621 was consecrated bishop of St. David's, with leave to hold the presidentship of St. John's college, and the rectory of Ibstock, in commendam; (fn. 20) but he resigned the former the day before he was con secrated bishop, in recompence of which, the king gave him leave to keep the parsonage of Creek, in Northamptonshire. (fn. 21) In 1625 he became deputy clerk of the closet, and on the Candlemas day following, he officiated at the coronation of king Charles I. as dean of Westminster, by the king's appointment, in the place of the bishop of Lincoln, then church,in commencourt, being then a canon of that church, in commendam. In 1626 he was translated to Bath and Wells, and was made dean likewise of the chapel royal, and next year was made a privy councellor, and in 1628 was translated to London. Two years after which, he was elected chancellor of the university of Oxford, when he drew up those statutes for regulating the university, which were recommended by the king, and received by that body. In 1633 he was sworn chancellor and a privy councellor of Scotland, the king being then about to be crowned at Edinburgh, and was elected chancellor of the university of Dublin; in which year, on Sept. 19, he was translated to this metropolitical see of Canterbury; some little while before which, a person came to him seriously and of avowed ability to perform it, and offered him a cardinal's hat, and about a fortnight afterwards he had another like offer, of both which he immediately at the time acquainted the king and of his refusal of it. (fn. 22) Next year he was appointed one of the commissioners of the exchequer, about which time he took order that all the records of the tower, which concern the clergy, should be collected together and written on vellum, at his own charge, and it was brought to him finished, curiously written and richly bound on June 10, 1637; (fn. 23) two years after which, he sent the remainder of his manuscripts to the public library at Oxford, being in numbers 576, to be added to 700, which he had formerly sent to it, and in 1640 he sent more, all consisting of several languages and faculties, but especially in the Hebrew, Greek, Persick, and Arabian tongues. (fn. 24)
In the beginning of the grand rebellion, he sell under the displeasure of the factious commons, and was imprisoned almost four years, on an impeachment of high treason. His trial was five months depending upon the general charge, that he had endeavoured to subvert the laws, the Protestant religion, and the rights of parliament. The archbishop made a full and undaunted defence of himself for above twenty days, with great art, vivacity, oratory and firmness, and considering the malice and animosity of the managers for the commons against him, with more patience and discreation than could be expected from a man of his warm and hasty temper; it was not without difficulty that the commons could be prevailed with, that the sentence of hanging should be changed into beheading, which, as the prisoner was a bishop, a privy councillor and the first peer of the realm, shews the rancour and inveteracy with which they persecuted him to death. (fn. 25)
His behaviour on the scaffold was truly great and magnanimous, and did him more honour than all the other circumstances of his life; he was beheaded on Towerhill, on Jan. 10, 1645, aged 71, being attended on the scaffold by Dr. Richard Sterne, one of his chaplains, where he read his speech to the multitude which surrounded it, and suffered the fatal blow with much courage, meekness and chearfulness; his remains were afterwards accompanied to the earth by great multitudes of people, whom affection or curiosity had drawn together for the purpose, and were decently interred according to the rights and ceremonies of the church of England, in the chancel of Alhallows, Barking; but in July 1663, they were removed to Oxford, and deposited in St. John's college chapel, in a small vault built purposely for them near the high altar. Thus ended the life of archbishop Laud, of whom our historians speak with such strange extremes, as they stood affected to one party or the other; but he neither deserved the fulsome praises of the one, nor the vile aspersions of the other. As to his temper, it must be allowed, that with great openness and sincerity, there was joined an ungovernable heat and impetuosity, which put him off his guard, and betrayed him into indiscretions, which gave a handle against him. His spirit being active and uncontroulable, it was a misfortune to him to be placed in the high rank of metropolitan, and of having the king's ear so much, in which he had so many opportunities to exert it; because, with his high principles in church and state, it made him no friend to the free laws and constitution of this country, and it of course raised many powerful enemies against him, who were implacable. He was a man of good parts, which had been improved by learning, but he was more a man of business than of letters; and lord Clarendon himself has confessed, that the archbishop retained too keen a memory of those who had used him ill, and there was something boisterous and turbulent in his disposition. (fn. 26)
There is no doubt, let his enemies say what they will, but that he was a firm and thorough Protestant, without any inclination whatever to become a Papist; but. as his zeal for the church of England made him a mortal enemy to all the sectaries, which divided from it; so to remove himself as far as he could from these, he countenanced and introduced ceremonies into the service, which too much resembled those in the church of Rome, and which he pressed with as much vigour, as though they had been the essentials of religion; and this was the great foible of archbishop Laud. It must be owned too, that he had a great deal of superstition in his composition, which appears in many instances of his diary. (fn. 27) His resolution was surpassed in nothing, but his zeal for the king and the hierarchy of the church, and in obeying the impulse of that zeal, he trusted too much to his good intentions, without any regard to prudence, or even common decency of manners; that is, he took no care to make these intentions appear in their best colours, or to pay any deference to other people's opinion about them, but rested satisfied in his own integrity. He was to the last degree impatient of contradiction, even in council, nor could he debate any arguments, which were not of moment, with that patience and temper which became his character. But the archbishop, with all the virtues and accomplishments which his most partial friends have attributed to him, it must be owned, was very unfit for either of the stations which he filled in church or state, especially in such times, and under such a prince as Charles I. Upon the whole, it may be said of archbishop Laud, that he had virtues and qualifications sufficient to have made him as much beloved and respected in private life, and in more quiet times, as he was the contrary in those turbulent ones in which he lived.
The archbishop was a munificent benefactor and patron, upon all occasions, though his activity in it procured him many enemies. He was peculiarly so in regard to the university of Oxford; for besides the statutes which he provided for the better regulation of it, he obtained of the king the grant of annexing a canonry of Christ-church in that university, to the Hebrew professorship, by which means the knowledge of the Hebrew and Chaldee languages began to be known in it; and he afterwards procured another canonry of the same church to be annexed to the Divinity professorship, and established likewise a professorship for the Arabic language. He obtained in 1637 of the king, out of certain consiscated lands, as much as was sufficient to endow three fellowships in the colleges of Exeter, Jesus and Pembroke, in that university, for educating as many natives of the islands of Jersey and Guernsey; and so much did he upon every occasion study to promote the interest of learning, that having built the Convocation house, at the end of the Divinity school, in the same university, he furnished the room over it, being that now called the Bodleian, or University library, with that great number of choice and rare manuscripts mentioned above, which he had with great care and expence collected from all parts, not only of this kingdom, but the most distant foreign ones. He enriched his own college of St. John, with a variety of valuable manuscripts, and with 500l. in money, besides having erected at it several buildings; among which were three sides of the new quadrangle of it, at his own costs and charges; and by this example and by his endeavours, other colleges followed the like improvements, beyond all expectation, so as to gain the admiration of every one. (fn. 28)
He settled the impropriation of Cuddesdon on the bishopric of Oxford, which has since become the bishop's residence of that see, and annexed commendams to several other bishoprics; whilst bishop of London, the church of St. Paul's was, by his singular care and management, entirely repaired and finished; a work which was then almost despaired of. (fn. 29) He settled 200l. a year on an hospital at Reading, where he was born, and procured a new charter of incoporation for that town, and he left several legacies of the like nature; and among others ten guineas per annum to put out poor boys apprentices.
Soon after his death, a narrative of his commitment, trial and execution, together with a large introductory discourse, was published by his inveterate enemy, Prynne, in which there appears as little regard to truth and Christian charity, as there had been to justice and mercy in pronouncing and executing the bloody sentence on him; but the keen pen of this incensed writer has not answered his intent to wound the archbibishop's reputation in the mind of any unprejudiced person.
Besides the large account of archbishop Laud, collected by Wood in his Athenæ Oxonienses, and Dr. Peter Heylin, who calls him our English Cyprian, published soon after the restoration, in a full and elaborate work, the History of his Life and Death; and there was published some years after the History of his Troubles and Trial, written by himself during his imprisonment in the tower, together with a preface by the editor, Mr. Henry Wharton, and there was afterwards a supplement added to it.
Archbishop Laud bore for his arms, Sable, on a chevron, or, between three stars of six points, as many crosses patee, sitchee, gules. (fn. 30)
78. WILLIAM JUXON, S. T. P. bishop of London, was next promoted to the see of Canterbury, (fn. 31) on Sept. 20, 1660, after it had remained vacant upwards of, fifteen years by the abolition of episcopacy, and the tyranny of fanaticism, which overturned the government of both church and state.
He was born at Chichester, of a good family, (fn. 32) and educated at Merchant Taylor's school, whence he was sent to Oxford, to St. John's college, of which he became a fellow, and about 1603 was a student of Gray's Inn, but afterwards taking orders, was in 1609 instituted to the vicarage of St. Giles's, in the north suburb, Oxford. He was also some time rector of Somerton, in Oxfordshire, where in the east window of the chancel is his coat of arms, according to Le Neve.
Whilst fellow of St. John's college, he contracted an intimate friendship with Dr. Laud, then president, whom he afterwards succeeded in the year 1621, in the government of it. After which, he was promoted to the deanry of Worcester, being then one of the king's chaplains, and at the instance of Dr. Laud in 1632, was appointed clerk of the closet; in 1633 he was elected bishop of Hereford, and at the same time was made dean of the chapel royal, but before he was consecrated he was translated to the see of London, made a privy counsellor, and in 1635 constituted lord high treasurer; all which honours and preferments he owed to the special recommendation of Dr. Laud, who well knew his worth and goodness, but the office of treasurer, though he filled it with probity, yet it produced a great deal of envy from the courtiers, on account of his being a churchman, a circumstance then become unusual (no churchman having held it since king Henry VII.'s time), and from its being a post the most beneficial of any in the kingdom, except the great seal. He resigned it in 1641, a little before the king's breach with the parliament, and attended wholly to the duties of his see; after which he continued high in the king's esteem and confidence, attending him in his sufferings, and being present with him on the scasfold at his martyrdom; he retired afterwards and lived privately at Little Compton, in Gloucestershire, until the restoration of king Charles II. when he was translated as above-mentioned to this archbishopric, but he was then so infirm and aged that he could with difficulty acquit himself of the duties of his high station.
Having sat in this see not quite three years, he died at Lambeth palace on June 20, 1663, æt. 81, and his body was conveyed with great state and solemnity to Oxford, where it was interred in the chapel of St. John's college. (fn. 33) at the upper end near the altar, in a grave walled with brick on the south side of that, then made to receive the remains of archbishop Laud, which in a few days after were laid in it. He built the great hall of Lambeth palace, at the expence of 10, 500l. upon the old model, and the books of the library having been dispersed by the fanatics, the archbishop made a demand of them, and they were restored to his successor, who prosecuted the claim, and he likewise made great repairs at Croydon palace; and before his death augmented the livings of many parishes in his diocese; of which see an account in Le Neve's Lives, &c. p. 158. By his will he gave also many noble bequests, as to St. John's college, in Oxford, 7000l. to the repair of St. Paul's cathedral 2000l. to the cathedral church of Canterbury 500l. and various other sums to the poor of several parishes: See Le Neve, p. 161, 162.
He left behind him the character of being a good man, and a person of primitive sanctity, (fn. 34) of great moderation and patience of temper, and much beloved, in short of a character unexceptionable; but if his abilities and learning were considerable, we have no remains of them, and he may be numbered rather among the good, than the great archbishops of this see.—Of his writings there is nothing extant except one sermon.