Bancroft, Richard

, archbishop of Canterbury in, the reign of king James I. the son of John Bancroft, gentleman, and Mary daughter of Mr. John Curvvyn, brother of Dr. Hugh Curvvyn, archbishop of Dublin, was born at Farnworth in Lancashire, in September 1544. After being taught grammar, he became a student of Christ college, | Cambridge, where, in 1566-7, he took the degree of B. A. and thence he removed to Jesus’ college, where, in 1570, he commenced M. A. Soon after, he was made chaplain to Dr. Cox, bishop of Ely, who, in 1575, gave him the rectory of Teversham in Cambridgeshire. The year following he was licensed one of the university preachers, and in 1580 was admitted B. D. September 14th, 1584, he was instituted to the rectory of St. Andrew, Holborn, at the presentation of the executors of Henry earl of Southampton. In 1585 he commenced D. D. and the same year was made treasurer of St. Paul’s cathedral in London. The year following he became rector of Cottingham in Northamptonshire, at the presentation of sir Christopher Hatton, lord chancellor, whose chaplain he then was. Feb. 25th, 1589, he was made a prebendary of St. Paul’s, in 1592 advanced to the same dignity in the collegiate church of Westminster, and in 1594 promoted to a stall in the cathedral of Canterbury. Not long before, he had distinguished his zeal for the church of England by a learned and argumentative sermon against the ambition of the Puritans, preached at St. Paul’s cross. In 1597, Dr. Bancroft, being then chaplain to the archbishop of Canterbury, Whitgift, was advanced to the see of London, in the room of Dr. Richard Fletcher, and consecrated at Lambeth the 8th of May. From this time he had, in effect, the archiepiscopal power: for the archbishop, being declined in years, and unfit for business, committed the sole management of ecclesiastical affairs to bishop Bancroft. Soon after his being made bishop, he expended one thousand marks in the repair of his house in London. In 1600, he, with others, was sent by queen Elizabeth to Embden, to put an end to a difference between the English and Danes but the embassy had no effect. This prelate interposed in the disputes between the secular priests and the Jesuits, and furnished some of the former with materials to write against their adversaries. In the beginning of king James’s reign^ he was present at the conference held at Hampton court, between the bishops and the Presbyterian ministers. The same year, 1603, he was appointed one of the commissioners for regulating the affairs of the church, and for perusing and suppressing books, printed in England, or brought into the realm without public authority. A convocation being summoned to meet, March 20, 1603-4, and archbishop Whitgift dying in the mean time, Bancroft was. by the king’s writ, appointed | president of that assembly. October 9tb, 1604, he was nominated to succeed the archbishop in that high dignity, to which he was elected by the dean and chapter, Nov. 17, and confirmedin Lambeth chapel, Dec. 10. Sept. 5, 1605, he was sworn one of his majesty’s most honourable privy council. This year, in Michaelmas term, he exhibited certain articles, to the lords of the council, against the judges. This was a complaint of encroachment, and a contest for jurisdiction between the temporal and ecclesiastical judges, and as Collier has well observed, ought to be decided by neither side but the decision was against him. In 1608 he was elected chancellor of the university of Oxford, in the room of the earl of Dorset. In ] 6 10 thisarchbishop offered to the parliament a project for the better providing a maintenance for the clergy, but without success. One of our historians pretends, that archbishop Bancroft set on foot the building a college near Chelsea, for the reception of students, who should answer all Popish and other controversial writings against the church of England. This prelate died Nov. 2, 1610, of the stone, in his palace at Lambeth. By his will he ordered his body to be interred in the chancel of Lambeth church, and besides other legacies, left all the books in his library to the archbishops his successors for ever. He was a rigid disciplinarian, a learned controversialist, an excellent preacher, a great statesman, and a vigilant governor of the church, and filled the see of Canterbury with great reputation but as he was most rigid in his treatment of the Puritans, it is not surprising that the nonconformist writers and their successors have spoken of him with much severity; but whatever may be thought of his general temper and character, his abilities appear to have been very considerable. In his famous sermon against the Puritans, there is a clearness, freedom, and manliness of style, which shew him to have been a great master of composition. It was printed with a, tract of his, entitled “Survey of the pretended Holy Discipline.” He wrote also another tract, entitled *’ Dangerous Positions,“and there is extant, in the Advocates’ library at Edinburgh, an original letter from him to king James I. containing an express vindication of pluralities. This letter has been printed by sir David Dalrymple, in the first volume of his Memorials. Dr. Bancroft is also the person meant as the chief overseer of the last translation of the Bible, in that paragraph of the preface to it beginning | with” But it is high time to leave them," &c. towards the end. 1

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Biog. Brit.- Wood’s Fasti, vol. I. Le Neve.- —Strype’s Whitgift, p. 29*2, 063, 404, 515—317, 541, 57'2, 590 k Harrington’s Brief View. Neal’s History of the Puritans. Granger, vol. I.