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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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