Brownrig, Ralph

, bishop of Exeter, was born at Ipswich in Suffolk, in 1592. His father, who was a merchant of that place, dying when he | was but a few weeks old, his mother took due care of his education, in which he made a very considerable progress. At the age of fourteen, he was sent to Pembroke-hall in Cambridge, of which he successively became scholar and fellow; and there he distinguished himself by his facetious and inoffensive wit, his eloquence, and his great skill and knowledge in philosophy, history, poetry, &c. He took his master’s degree in 1617, B. D. in 1621, and D. D. in 1626. He was appointed prevaricator when James I. visited the university, and discharged that employment to the universal aUmiration of the whole audience. His first preferments were, the rectory of Barley in Hertfordshire, and a prebend of Ely in 1621, to both which he was collated by Dr. Nicholas Felton, bishop of Ely. July 15, 1628, he was incorporated doctor of divinity at Oxford. On the 2 1st of September, 16-29, he was collated to the prebend of Tachbrook, in the cathedral church of Lichfield, which he quitted September 19, 1631, when he was admitted to the archdeaconry of Coventry. He was likewise master of Catherine-hall in Cambridge, and proved a great benefit and ornament both to that college and the whole university. In 1637, 1638, 1643, and 1644, he executed the office of vice-chancellor, to the universal satisfaction of all people, and to his own great credit. In 1641, he was presented to the eleventh stall or prebend in the church of Durham, by Dr. Thomas Morton, bishop of that diocese, to whom he was chaplain. Upon the translation of Dr. Joseph Hall to the bishopric of Norwich, Dr. Brown rig was nominated to succeed him in the see of Exeter, in 1641. Accordingly he was elected March 3 1, 1642; confirmed May 14; consecrated the day following; and installed the 1st of June. But the troubles that soon after followed, did not permit him long to enjoy that dignity. Before the beginning of them, he was much esteemed, and highly commended, by his relation John Pym, and others of the presbyterian stamp: but they forsook him, only because he was a bishop; and suffered him to be deprived of his revenues, so that he was almost reduced to want. Nay, once he was assaulted, and like to have been stoned by the rabble, his episcopal character being his only crime. About 1645, he was deprived of his mastership of Catherine-hall> on account of a sermon preached by him before the university, on the king’s inauguration, at some passages of which, offence was taken by the parliament party; and | neither his piety, gravity, or learning, were sufficient to preserve him in his station. Being thus robbed of all, he retired to the house of Thomas Rich, of Sunning, esq. in Berkshire, by whom he was generously entertained: and there, and sometimes at London, at Highgate, and St. Edmundsbury, spent several years. During this time, he had the courage to advise Oliver Cromwell to restore king Charles II. to his just rights, but yet he suffered in his reputation, as not being zealous enough for the church. About a year before his decease, he was invited to be a preacher at the Temple, in London, with a handsome allowance; and accordingly he went and settled there, in good lodgings furnished for him. But his old distemper, the stone, coming upon him with greater violence than usual, and being attended with the dropsy and the infirmities of age, they all together put an end to his life, on the 7th of December, 1659: he was buried the 17th following in the Temple church, where there is an epitaph over him. He was once married, but never had a child. Though he was very elaborate and exact in his compositions, and completely wrote his sermons, yet he could not be persuaded to print any thing in his life-time. Bishop Brownrig, as to his person, was tall and comely. The majesty of his presence was so allayed with meekness, candour, and humility, that no man was farther from any thing morose or supercilious. He had a great deal of wit, as well as wisdom; and was an excellent scholar, an admirable orator, an acute disputant, a pathetic preacher, and a prudent governor, full of judgment, courage, constancy, and impartiality. He was, likewise, a person of that soundness of judgment, of that conspicuity for an unspotted life, and of that unsuspected integrity, that he was a complete pattern to all. Dr. Gauden, who had known him above thirty years, declares that he never heard of any thinor said or done by him, which a wise and good man would have wished unsaid or undone. Some other parts of Dr. Gauden’s character of him may be supposed to proceed from the, warmth of friendship. Echard says of him, that “he was a great man for the Anti-Arminian cause (for he was a rigid Calvinist), yet a mighty champion for the liturgy and ordination by bishops: and his death was highly lamented by men of all parties.' 7 Baxter, Neal, and other writers of the nonconformist party, are no less warm in his praises. He was one of those excellent men with whom | archbishop Tillotson cultivated an acquaintance at his first coming to London, and by whose preaching and example he formed himself. After his death some of his sermons were published, under the title” Forty Sermons, &c." 1662, fol. and reprinted with the addition of twenty-five, making a second volume, 1674, fol. His style is rather better than that of many of his contemporaries. 1

1

Biog. Brit. Life and Funeral Sermon by Dr. Gauden, 1660, 8vo.Fuller’s Worthies. Barwick’s Life, see Index. Clarendon’s Hist. vol. II. p. 305. Sylvester’s Life of Baxter, p. 172, 174, 175, &e. Plume’s Life of Racket, p. 12, 13, 16, 25, 44, -Neal’s Puritans, vol. II. p. 8-i, 544, 4to edit. Lloyd’s Memoirs, fol. p. 404.