Poynet, John

, successively bishop of Rochester and Winchester, in the reign of Edward VI. was born in the county of Kent, about the year 1516, and was educated in King’s college, Cambridge, where his adversaries allow he was distinguished for his learning;. He was not only skilled in Greek and Latin, but in some of the modern languages, particularly Italian and Dutch. In early life he proved himself an able mathematician and mechanist. He constructed a clock, which pointed both to the hours of the day, the day of the month, the sign of the Zodiack, the lunar variations, and the tides, which was presented to Henry VIII. and considered by him and others as a very extraordinary performance. Heylin, who is seldom partial to the early English reformers, tells us, that he was “well-studied with the ancient fathers.

At what time he imbibed the principles of the Reformation is uncertain; but it appears that he was accounted a champion for that great change in the beginning of the reign of Edward VI. when he was made bishop of Rochester, although only in his 33d year. He was then D.D. and chaplain to archbishop Cranmer. When Gardiner was deprived, he was the following year, 1551, translated to Winchester, and was one of the bishops appointed to make a new code of ecclesiastical laws. He had frequently preached be fore king Edward who, on account of his zealous efforts for the reformation, desired that he might have the above dignities. He had before this, however, some lesser preferment. By Newcourt we find, that Cranmer gave him the rectory of St. Michael Queenhithe, London, Nov. 15, 1543, which he held, in commendam, until May 15, 1551, when he was translated to Winchester. He was a frequent preacher, and wrote several treatises in defence of the Reformation but his most remarkable performance was what is commonly called “King Edward’s Catechism,” which appeared in 1553, in two editions, the one Latin, the other English, with the royal privilege. | That it was not hastily adopted, however, appears by king Edward’s letter prefixed to it, in which he says “When there was presented unto us, to be perused, a short and playne order of Catechisme, written by a certayne godlye and learned man: we committed the debatinge and diligent examination thereof to certain byshoppes and other learned men, whose judgment we have in greate estimation.” This catechism has been attributed to Nowell; but the late excellent biographer of that eminent divine considers it as unquestionably Poynet’s, although Nowell took much from it into his own catechism.

When queen Mary came to the crown, Povnet, with many others, retired to Strasburgh, where he died April 11, 1556, not quite forty years of age. Dodd says he was obliged to leave England for treasonable practices; as he had not only encouraged Wyat’s rebellion, but personally appeared in the field against the queen and government. This may be true; but no treason was necessary to render England an unsafe place for a man so zealous for the reformation, a professed opponent of Gardiner, and who succeeded that tyrannical prelate in the see of Winchester. Strype informs us, that immediately on the accession of Mary, bishop Poynet was ejected and imprisoned, and deprived of episcopacy, for being married. He doubts whether he ever was concerned with Wyat, but says he was a great friend to the learned Ascham. Milner accuses him of signing away a great number of the most valuable possessions of the see of Winchester. He accuses him also of being of an intolerant spirit, and that he persecuted the learned physician, Andrew Borde. Borde, however, was guilty of irregularities, which it was not unbecoming in his diocesan to punish. If Poynet was intolerant, what shall we say of the favourites of the popish historians?

Besides the “Catechism” already mentioned, bishop Poynet was the author of: 1. “A Tragedie or Dialoge of the unjust usurped primacie of the bishop of Rome,” translated from Bernard Ochinus,“1549, 8vo. 2.” A notable Sermon concerning the ryght use of the Lordes Supper,“&c. preached before the king at Westminster,” 1550, 8vo. When abroad, he wrote, which was published the year after his death, a treatise on the same subject, entitled :t Dialecticon viri boni et literati de veritate, natura, atque substautia corporis et sanguinis Christi in Eucharistia“in which, Bayle says, he endeavoured to reconcile the | therans and Zuinglians. 3.” A short Treatise of Politique Power, and of the true obedience which subjectes owe to kynges and other civile governours, with an exhortacion to all true naturall Englishe men, compyled by D. I. P. B. R. V.V. i.e. Dr. John Poynet, bishop of Rochester and Winchester,“1556, 8vo. The contents of this may be seen in Oldys’s Catalogue of Pamphlets in the Harleian Library, No. 409. It was reprinted in 1639 and 1642 which gave a suspicion that it contained sentiments respecting queen Mary, which at this time were thought applicable to a far milder sovereign. Dr. Poynet wrote” A Defence for Marriage of Priests,“1549, 8vo; and has been thought the author of an answer to the popish Dr. Martin on the same subject, entitled” An Apologie, fully aunswering, by Scriptures and anceant doctors, a blasphemose book, gathered by D. Stephen Gardiner," &c. &c. But Wharton, in his observations on Strype’s Memorials of Cranmer, assigns very sufficient reasons why it could not be Poynet’s. 1

1 Godwin de Proesul. Bale. Tanner. —Strype’s Life of Crannaer/>aim. Gen. Dict. Fuller’s Worthies. Dodd’s Ch. Kist. Churton’s Life of Nowell. Milner’s Hist, of Winchester, vol. I. p, 346.