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Saturday, 19 November 2011

Leonard Hutton - An elegant scholar

Academic background

Leonard Hutton was born in 1557/1558. We know little or nothing of his origins, whether in family connection or geographical location. He first appears as a student in London, at Westminster School - which probably makes him a Londoner. Every third year the school selected three scholars to attend Christ Church, Oxford. Hutton went up to Oxford in 1574. There followed a lifelong pursuit of learning in the University, first graduating BA in 1578, proceeding MA in 1582. Matters of divinity then became the focus, when a BD followed in 1591. Finally he was admitted DD in 1600.

Oxford graduation ceremoney

Bodleian Library

Hutton featured prominently in early seventeenth-century church and university life. He led the ceremony which opened the Bodleian Library in 1602 - a national treasure. He preached on the queen's accession day. As pro-vice-chancellor in 1603, he became involved in theological disputes within the university.

Spiritual qualifications

Alex MacClure says:

He was well known as an “excellent Grecian,” and an elegant scholar. He was well versed in the [church] fathers, the [medieval] schoolmen, and the [ancient] learned languages, which were the favorite studies of that day; and he also investigated with care the history of his own nation.

It was standard at that time to take ‘holy orders’ and so Hutton thereby added frequent preaching to his lifestyle. He became rector in several parishes: Long Preston, Yorkshire (1587–8); Rampisham, Dorset (1595–1601); Floore (Flower), Northamptonshire (1601 until his death); and Weedon Bec, Northamptonshire (1602–4). He was made canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, in 1599, and later became a prebendary of Reculversland in St Paul's, London, 1609.

Literary attainments

His first achievement was in being appointed (1604) one of the translators of the group working on the Gospels, Acts, and Apocalypse, appointed by King James. This Second Oxford company was directed by Thomas Ravis, who also went to both Westminster School and Christ Church Oxford.

There followed his first published work in 1612, entitled An Answere to a Certaine Treatise of the Crosse in Baptisme. This was a response to the Puritan William Bradshaw and aimed to defend the more ceremonial understanding of public worship.

Other works followed, featuring the local history of ecclesiastical Oxford.

Spires of Oxford

In 1606 ninety-eight Oxford dons wrote a collection of verses celebrating the visit of King Christian IV of Denmark and Hutten contributed to these.

Family connections

Hutton got married to one Anne Hampden in about 1600. Daughter Alice was born (1602–1628) - she married the then dean of Christ Church, and later bishop of Oxford. Hutton lived to a ripe old age and died May 17th, 1632, aged seventy-four or thereabouts.

In 1635 a brass inscription in Latin records, in the north transept of Christ Church Cathedral, that he ‘gave back to God a soul learned, straightforward, and godly’.

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Monday, 14 November 2011

Daniel Featley (Fairclough) - Puritan protaganist

Magdalen College, Oxford

Early Days

Daniel Featley (Fairclough) was a Church of England clergyman and religious controversialist, born 5th March 1582 in Charlton-on-Otmoor, Oxfordshire, son of John Fairclough and his wife, Marian Thrift. At the age of seven he became a chorister of Magdalen College, Oxford, where his father was a college servant. His linguistic talent was early noticed when, at the age of twelve, he habitually produced witty and elegant verses in Latin and Greek (Featley, 8) to the delight of many.

Academic career

Featley is noted as a protégé of John Rainolds, who was a leading spokesman for the Puritans. Featley was received as a scholar of Corpus Christi College, and graduated BA in 1601, and then appointed a probationer fellow of the college. He proceeded MA in 1606, and became noted as a disputant and preacher. It was another seven years before Featley took B.D. in 1613.

Appointment to the Translation Committee

At some point after 1604 he was appointed to the first Oxford company of translators, whose work focused on the Major and Minor Prophets of the Old Testament (Isaiah - Malachi). Some have questioned Featley’s suitability for the translation task, as he was only in his twenties at the time of appointment. In 1607 he delivered an oration at the funeral of John Rainolds. As Rainolds had been a member of the first Oxford company, it is more than possible that Featley was appointed to fill the breach left by his mentor‘s death for three years, prior to his departing for the continent. We do not know the measure of attainment he achieved in his Hebrew studies to suit him for the task of Old Testament translation. The chronology suggests his appointment may have motivated him to undertake more formal studies in Hebrew, in order to fulfill his commission. Whichever, we should be well assured that Featley’s general linguistic skills were not in doubt.

Experiencing the Continent

In 1610 Featley was recommended to the English ambassador to Paris, Sir Thomas Edmondes, who appointed him as his household chaplain. He spent the three years following in Paris, where he was known as redoubtable in arguing for the protestant cause. He was reported as being despised by the Jesuits for his smallness of stature. Nevertheless, he made up for this by quick repartee, together with an ability to make fine-shaded distinctions when pursuing an argument (Leo, 23). Featley claimed that a local Cardinal had tried to recover him to the Catholic fold, by ‘promise of far greater preferments than ever he could expect in England’ (D. Featley, Sacra nemesis, the Levites Scourge, 1644, 66).

Labelled an extremist

Theologically, at home Featley was finding disapproval from the mainstream, with his outspoken puritanical views of worship, etcetera. Tact was not his strong suit. He seems to have given offence by his plain speaking, even in consecration sermons. However, for those sharing his theological views, Featley remained a significant figure throughout the first half of the 17th century.

Though he was small of stature, yet he had a great soul, and had all learning compacted in him. (McClure).
In the wake of the Synod of Dort (1618) he also mediated in a number of theological disputes between puritan ministers, and supplied a conciliatory note to the discussion by his prefaces to several influential works.
Among protestant divines in France and the Netherlands he was regarded as one of the leading defenders of the Reformed faith; Leo recalled visiting the University of Groningen and seeing Featley's name in a list of ‘the most famous Schoole-men’ of the Christian church.

Univeristy of Groningen

It was his misfortune that, having found himself out of favour in the 1630s because of his views on doctrine, Featley then found himself attacked in the 1640s because of his views on church discipline, and was thus denied the recognition his talents deserved.(1)

A convinced Calvinist

Featley was strongly opposed to the Arminian school of theology, which he regarded as dangerously close to semi-Pelagianism and Roman Catholicism. He may have been the ‘Oxford man, chaplein to the Archbishop’ mentioned for preaching a visitation sermon ‘wondrous plainly and vehemently against the fearfull or flattering silence of our Clergie’, warning that ‘the hope of a crosier staffe or a Cardinalls hatt would make many a Scholler in England beat his braine to reconcile the Church of Rome and England’ (BL, Harley MS 389, fol. 318). At King Charles I's first parliament in 1625, Featley was elected a member of convocation, and became the leader of a group of forty-five clergy who agreed among themselves ‘to oppose everything that did but savour or scent never so little of Pelagianism or Semi-Pelagianism.

King Charles 1

Surprising comfort to a troubled King

Featley produced a devotional manual entitled Ancilla Pietatis in 1626 which proved very popular, going through six editions with translations into French and other languages - it was a special favourite with Charles I as he struggled to cope with his confrontation with the ‘separatists,‘ who were insisting parliamentary government was wiser than absolute monarchy.

The price of commitment

During the Civil War years Featley landed up in prison for defending episcopal government. He was already in bad health , and the situation hastened his death of asthma and dropsy, in 1645, and he was buried in the chancel of Lambeth church.

Literary achievements

Daniel Featley published as many as forty books and treatises, also leaving a huge number of articles/manuscripts.
His other labors have passed away; “but the word of the Lord,” which, as it is believed, he aided in giving to unborn millions, “abideth for ever. McClure

(1) Hunt, Arnold. (2004) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

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Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Jeremiah Radcliffe - close to the King’s physician

Jeremiah Radcliffe’s date of birth is unknown. He was educated at Westminster School and went on to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he became a Fellow in 1572.

He ‘took holy orders’ in the usual way, and developed pastoral relationships as time went on, in 1588 becoming Vicar of Evesham. Then, two years later, he was Rector of Orwell 1590. Thus, he acquired 'a string of livings' and the influence of family is seen in his being brother to the King's physician" (1) His teaching career resulted in his being made Vice-Master of his College in 1597 for 15 years. In the year 1600, he received a doctorate in Divinity, which was acknowledged by both universities. He also served in the "Second Cambridge Company" charged by James I of England with translating the Apocrypha for the King James Version of the Bible. He died in 1612.

Memorial to Jeremiah Radcliffe
Church of St. Andrew, Orwell.
(1) Bobrick, Benson p. 241.

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Robert Ward - almost anonyomous

King's College, Cambridge

Robert Ward (otherwise known as John Ward) was an English scholar, and a fellow of King's College, Cambridge. He was a prebendary of Chichester Cathedral., and served in the "Second Cambridge Company" charged by James I of England with translating the Apocrypha for the King James Version of the Bible.

McClure says of Ward

All that we gather of this Dr. Ward is that he was Prebendary of Chichester, and Rector of Bishop’s Waltham in Hampshire. Also, Fuller gives him the strange title of “Regal,” probably denoting some station in the University.

Other than these few details, we know very little about him. Further research may remedy that.

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