Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

esteemed the ornament of his country. He was equally the scholar and the gentleman; well versed in heraldry and antiquities; and being indefatigable in these pursuits, he visited all the towns and villages in Lincolnshire, and made a collection of the coats of arms, monuments, and ancient inscriptions, which he found in the churches and other public edifices. These, with other invaluable manuscripts of the same writer, are deposited in the British Museum.* His eager researches after antiquities were so successful, that he obtained possession of many valuable records and charters of dissolved monasteries, with their registers and ledgers; and also some important papers, illustrative of the ancient state of this borough. During his residence in his native town of Grimsby, he served the office of mayor, and represented the borough in Parliament. He made many attempts to restore the port to its former capacity for trade; which' redound highly to his credit; but they were rendered ineffectual by the civil wars which at that period convulsed the whole nation.

This eminent individual took a final leave of Grimsby, soon after the restoration of Charles II.; who appointed him a commissioner in one of his courts. The benefits which he conferred on Grimsby are incalculable. He rescued from destruction every memorial of its ancient greatness and prosperity, at a time when two noble churches graced the town, and five religious establishments were disseminating

Harleian and Lansdowne's Collections.

religion, learning, and piety, amongst its numerous inhabitants, and the illustrious families which graced its precincts; all which are now, with him, laid low in overwhelming ruin.

ARCHBISHOP WHITGIFT.

The family of Whitgift was ancient and wealthy. One of his ancestors endowed the monastery of St. Mary, in York, with lands and tenements in Staynburn, so early as the year 1308. He was related to the Fulnetbys, an ancient Lincolnshire family, one of whom served the office of high sheriff in 1355, and the three following years; and was again appointed to the same honourable situation in 1369, which he held for four years; and the same individual represented the county in several successive parliaments. He was also allied to the family of Goodrich, Bishop of Ely, and Lord Chancellor of England, in the reign of Edward VI. ;* whose father or grandfather represented the borough of Grimsby in parliament.

Henry Whitgift, the father of our archbishop, was an opulent merchant of Grimsby, and was married to Ann Dynewell, "a virtuous young gentlewoman, of good parentage, in the said town."† John, the subject of this brief memoir, was the eldest of six sons which sprang from this union, and was

* Bishop of Hereford's Annals, p. 249.

+ Strype's Life of Whitgift, p. 3.

born A.D. 1530, at Grimsby. Shewing an early aptitude for learning, he was placed under the care of his paternal uncle, the abbot of Wellow, who superintended the education of several other gentlemen's sons. Young Whitgift soon outstripped all his associates, and was removed to St. Anthony's school in London, and lodged at his aunt's in St. Paul's Church-Yard; but incurring her displeasure, by firm and unyielding refusal to join in the superstitious ceremonies of the Romish communion, she sent him back to his father in 1548; not, however, before he had made a considerable proficiency in classical learning.

He was now entered of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge; but his father, having shortly afterwards sustained some very heavy losses at sea, was incapable of continuing to support our scholar at the university, and communicated to his son this afflicting intelligence. Young Whitgift, however, obtained his father's permission to remain some time longer in his present situation, relying on his own talents for preferment. Nor was he disappointed in his expectations. His brilliant abilities soon elevated him to distinction, and his regular habits recommended him to the notice of his superiors. Bishop Ridley, in particular, the master of Pembroke Hall, became his avowed patron, and he was received as a scholar on the foundation, and elected bible clerk.— Through the interest of his patron, he was shortly chosen fellow of Peter House; and in the year 1560,

he took holy orders, and preached his first sermon before the university, which procured him very high commendation; and in a short time his talents were rewarded with the rectory of Feversham, and a stall in Ely cathedral. In 1562, he was elevated to the high office of Margaret professor of divinity.

Dr. Whitgift now openly proclaimed his confirmed opinion that "the Pope is Antichrist," and maintained that position in his divinity act. His preferment was now rapidly advancing. He was elected master of Trinity College, and proved himself a strict disciplinarian-which embroiled him in frequent disputes. He became a public champion for the Church of England, whose liturgies, doctrines, and discipline he defended equally against the Papists and the Dissenters; and by his learning, abilities, and application, he always obtained the advantage over his opponents. His publications soon attracted the notice of government, and received the approbation of the Queen, who rewarded him with a bishoprick. He was consecrated to the see of Worcester, in 1577; and in the same year was appointed vicepresident of Wales; in both which offices he conducted himself so much to the satisfaction of Her Majesty's privy council, that he received the unanimous thanks of that exalted body, In 1583, he was elevated to the dignity of archbishop of Canterbury; and thus arrived at the highest ecclesiastical honour that could be conferred. Amidst all these dignities he did not forget his native town; and, in the year

1586, he succeeded in uniting the two parishes of Saint Mary and Saint James; and, as the former church was in ruins, he presented the latter to the inhabitants, which formerly belonged to the abbey of Wellow.

In 1599, the good archbishop, as he was emphatically styled, completed his noble foundation of a free school, hospital, and chapel at Croyden, which were solemnly consecrated and dedicated to the Holy Trinity. This establishment was intended for forty poor, impotent, or maimed persons, to be chosen by the archbishop, and his executors and assigns for ever; and was endowed with land and other property in Croyden and the neighbourhood; amounting, at the present time, to nearly £3000. a year.

The eminently useful career of this celebrated prelate was now drawing to a close. He attended Queen Elizabeth in her last illness; of which solemn scene Robert Cary, Earl of Monmouth, gives the following account in his "Memoirs." "About six at night, (March 23) she made signs for the archbishop and her chaplains to come to her, at which time I went in with them, and sat upon my knees full of tears to see that heavy sight. Her Majesty lay upon her back, with one hand in the bed and the other without. The bishop kneeled down by her, and examined her first of her faith; and she so punctually answered all his several questions, by lifting up her eyes and holding up her hand, as it

« VorigeDoorgaan »