Potter, Barnabas

, a pious prelate of the church of England, was born within the barony of Kendall, in the county of Westmoreland, in 1578 or 1579. In his fifteenth year he entered Queen’s college, Oxford, as a poor student, or tabarder, but made such progress in his studies, that he took, his degrees with great reputation; and when master of arts, was chosen fellow of his college. During his fellowship he became tutor to the sons of several gentlemen of rank and worth, whom he assiduously trained in learning and religion. After taking orders, he was for some time lecturer at Abington, and at Totness in Devonshire, where he was highly respected as an affecting preacher, and was, according to Wood, much followed by the puritans. In 1610 he was chosen principal of Edmund Hall, but resigned, and was never admitted into that office. In 1615 he completed his degrees in divinity; and being presented the following year to a pastoral charge, by sir Edward Giles of Devonshire, hemarried the daughter of that gentleman, and intended to settle in that country. Such, however, was the character he had left behind him at Oxford, that on the death of Dr. Airay, the same year, he vvas unanimously elected provost of Queen’s college, entirely without his knowledge. This station he retained about ten years and being then one of the king’s | chaplains, resigned the provostship in favour of his nephew, the subject of our next article. He was now again about to settle in Devonshire when king Charles, passing by, as we are told, many solicitations in favour of others, peremptorily nominated him bishop of Carlisle in 1628. Wood adds, that in this promotion he had the interest of bishop Laud, “although a thorough-paced Calvinist.” He continued, however, a frequent and favourite preacher; and, says Fuller, “was commonly called the puritanical bishop; and they would say of him, in the time of king James, that organs would blow him out of the church which I do not believe the rather, because he was loving of and skilful in vocal music, and could bear his own part therein.

In the beginning of the long parliament he preached at Westminster, and inveighed against the corruptions and innovations that had crept into the church, and his sentiments were generally approved of; but, in the confusion and prejudices which ensued, he did not escape without the usual crimes imputed to men of rank in the church, and was censured as popish, merely because he was a bishop. This treatment, and a foresight of the calamities about to fall on his church and nation, are said to have hastened his death, which happened at his lodgings in Covent-garden, in January 1642. He was interred in the church of St, Paul, Covent-garden. He died, says Fuller, “in honour, being the last bishop that died a member of parliament.

Wood mentions, as his writings, “Lectures on some chapters of Genesis,” but knows not whether printed; and several sermons; one, “The Baronet’s Burial,” on the burial of Sir Edmund Seymour, Oxon. 1613, 4to; and another, on Easter Tuesday, one of the Spital sermons. 1


Ath. Ox. vol. II. Clark’s Lives of Modern Divines. Fuller’s Worthies. Lloyd’s Memoirs, folio, where is the fullest account of his character.