Williams, John

, an English prelate of great abilities and very distinguished character, was the youngest son of Edward Willjams, esq. of Aber-Conway, in Caernarvonshire, in Wales, where he was born March 25, 1582. He was educated at the public school at Rutbin, in 1598, and at sixteen years of age admitted at St. John’s college, in Cambridge. His natural parts were very uncommon, and his application still more so; for he was of so singular and happy a constitution, that from his youth upwards he never required more than three hou’rs sleep out of the twentyfour for the purposes of perfect health. He took the degree of A. B. in 1602, and was made fellow of his college; yet this first piece of preferment was obtained by a mandamus from James I. His manner of studying had something particular in it. He used to allot one month to a certain province, esteeming variety almost as refreshing as | cessation from labour; at the end of which he would take up some other subject, and so on, till he came round to his former courses. This method he observed, especially in his theological studies; and he found his account in it. He was also an exact philosopher, as well as an able divine, and admirably versed in all branches of literature. In 1605, when he took his master’s degree, he entertained his friends at the commencement in a splendid manner, for he was naturally generous, and was liberally supplied with money by his friends and patrons. John lord Lumley often furnished him both with books and money; and Dr. Richard Vaughan, bishop of London, who was related to him, gave him an invitation to spend his time at his palace at vacation times. Being thus introduced into the best company, contributed greatly towards polishing his manners.

He was not, however, so much distinguished for his learning, as for his dexterity and skill in business. When he was no more than five and twenty, he was employed by the college in some concerns of theirs; on which occasions he was sometimes admitted to speak before archbishop Bancroft, who was exceedingly taken with his engaging wit and decent behaviour. Another time he was deputed, by the masters and fellows of his college, their agent to court, to petition the king for a mortmain, as an increase of their maintenance; on this occasion he succeeded in his suit, and was taken particular notice, of by the king; for, there was something in him which his majesty liked so well, that he told him of it long after when he came to be his principal officer. He entered into orders in his twenty-­seventh year and took a small living,.- which lay beyond St. Edmund’s Bury, upon the confines of Norfolk. In 1611 he was instituted to the rectory of Grafton Regis, in Northamptonshire, at the king’s presentation; and the same year was recommended to the lord-chancellor Egerton for his chaplain, but obtained leave of the chancellor to continue one year longer at Cambridge, in order to serve the office of proctor of the university. While Mr. Williams was in this post, the duke of Wirtemberg and his train happened to pay a visit to the university. The duke having the reputation of a learned prince, it was thought proper to entertain him with learned disputations. Mr. Williams being on this occasion president or moderator, performed his part with equal skill and address. Out of compliment to the duke he confirmed all his reasons with | quotations from the eminent professors of the German uni^ versities, which was so. acceptable to the duke and his retinue, that they would not part with Mr. Williams from their company while they continued at Cambridge, and afterwards carried him with them to the palace at Newmarket, and acquainted the king with the honour he had done to the literati of their country. The following year Mr. Williams took the degree of B. D. and afterwards chiefly resided in the house of his patron, lord Egerton, who advised with him on many occasions, and testified his regard for him by various promotions, particularly the rectory of Grafton Underwood, in Northamptonshire; and in 1613 he was made precentor of Lincoln; rector of Waldgrave, in Northamptonshire, in 1614; and between that year and 1617 was collated to a prebend and residentiaryship in the church of Lincoln, and to prebends in those of Peterborough, Hereford, and St. David’s, besides a sinecure in North Wales.

The chancellor Egerton dying the 15th of March, 1616—17, gave Williams some books and papers, all written with his own hand. His lordship, upon the day of his death, called Williams to him, and told him “that if he wanted money he would leave him such a legacy in his will as should enable him to begin the world like a gentleman.” “Sir,” says Williams, “I kiss your hands you have filled my cup full; I am far from want, unless it be of your lordship’s directions how to live in the world if I survive you.” “Well,” said the chancellor, “I know you are an expert workman; take these tools to work with; they are the best I have;” and so gave him the books and papers. Bishop Hacket says that he saw the notes; and that they were collections for the well-ordering the high court of parliament, the court of chancery, the star-chamber, and the council-board: so that he had a good stock to set up with; and Hacket does not doubt but his system of politics was drawn from chancellor Egerton’s papers.

When sir Francis Bacon was made lord keeper, he offered to continue Williams his chaplain; who, however, declining it, was made a justice of the peace by his lordship for the county of Northampton. He was made king’s chaplain at the same time, and had orders to attend his majesty in his northern progress, which was to begin soon after; but the bishop of Winchester got leave Jor him to stay and to take his doctor’s degree, for the sake of giving | entertainment to Marco Antonio v de Dominis, archbishop of Spalato, who was lately come to England, and designed to be at Cambridge the commencement following. The questions which he maintained for his degree were, “Supremus maoistratus non est excommunicabilis,” and “Subductio caiicis est mutilatio sacramenti et sacerdotii.” Dr. Williams now retired to his rectory of Wai d grave, where he had been at the expence, before he came, of building, gardening, and planting, to render it an agreeable residence. He had also provided a choice collection of books, which he stu lied with his usual diligence. As a minister he was very attentive to the duties of his function. He read, prayers constantly on Wednesdays and Fridays, and preached twice every Sunday at Waldgrave, or at Grafton; performing in his turn also at Kettering, in a lecture preached by an association of the best ’divines in that neighbourhood. It was a common saying with him, that “the way to get the credit from the nonconformists was, to out- preach them.” And his preaching was so much liked that his church used to be thronged with the gentry of the neighbouring parishes as well as his own. In the mean time, he was most of all distinguished for his extensive charities to the poor; the decrepid, the aged, the widow, and the fatherless, were sure of a welcome share in his hospitality.

In 1619 Dr. Williams preached before the king on Matth. ii. 8, and printed his sermon by his majesty’s order. The same year he was collated to the deanery of Salisbury, and the year after removed to the deanery of Westminster. He obtained this preferment by the interest of the marquis of Buckingham, whom for some time he neglected to court, says bishop Hacket, for two reasons; first, because he mightily suspected the continuance of the marquis in favour at court; secondly, because he saw that the marquis was very apt suddenly to look cloudy upon his creatures, as if he had raised them up on purpose to cast them down. However, once, when the doctor was attending the king, in the absence of the marquis, his majesty asked him abruptly, and without any relation to the discourse then in hand, “When he was at Buckingham?” “Sir,” said the doctor, “I have had no business to resort to his lordship.” “But,” replied the king, “wheresoever he is, you must go to him about my business;*‘ which he accordingly did, and the marquis received him courteously. He took this | as a hint from the king to visit the marquis, to whom he was afterwards serviceable in furthering his marriage with the great heiress, the earl of Rutland’s daughter. He reclaimed her ladyship from the errors of the Church of Rome to the faith and profession of the Church of England; in order to which he drew up the elements of the true religion for her use, and printed twenty copies of it with no name, only,” By an old prebend of Westminster."

The lord chancellor Bacon being removed from his office in May 1621, Williams was made lord keeper of the great seal of England, the 10th of July following; and the same month bishop of Lincoln, with the deanery of Westminster, and the rectory of Waldgrave, in commendam. When the great seal was brought to the king from lord Bacon, his majesty was overheard by some near him to say, upon the delivery of it to him, “Now by my soule, I am pained at the heart where to bestow this for, as to my lawyers, I thinke they be all knaves.” In this high office bishop Williams discharged his duties with eminent ability, and with extraordinary diligence and assiduity. It is said by Hacket, that when our prelate first entered upon the office, he had such a load of business, that he was forced to sit by candle-light in the court of chancery two hours before day, and to remain there till between eight and nine; after which he repaired to the House of Peers, where he sat as speaker till twelve or one every day. After a short repast at home, he then returned to hear the causes in chancery, which he could not dispatch in the morning; or if he attended the council at Whitehall, he came back towards evening, and followed his chancery business till eight at night, and later. After this when he came home, he perused what papers his secretary brought to him; and when that was done, though late in the night, he prepared himself for the business which was to be transacted next morning in the House of Lords. And it is said that when he had been one year lord keeper, he had finally concluded more causes than had been decided in the preceding seven years. In the Star-chamber he behaved with more lenity and moderation in general, than was usual among the judges of that court. He would excuse himself from inflicting any severe corporal punishment upon an offender, by saying that “councils had forbidden bishops from meddling with blood in a judicial form.” In pecuniary fines he was also very lenient, and very ready to remit his own share | in fines. Of this we have the following instance. Sir Francis Inglefield had asserted before witnesses, that “he could prove this holy bishop judge had been bribed by some that had fared well in their causes,” The lord keeper immediately called upon sir Francis to prove his assertion, which he being unable to do, was fined some thousand pounds to be paid to the king and the injured party. Soon after bishop Williams sent for sir Francis, and told him he would give him a demonstration that he was above a bribe; and “for my part,” said he, “I forgive you every penny of my fine, and will beg of his majesty to do the same.” This piece of generosity made sir Francis acknowledge his fault, and he was afterwards received into some degree of friendship and acquaintance with the lord keeper. Weldon’s charge of corruption against Williams seems to be equally ill founded,nothing of the kind having ever been proved.

Bishop Williams was very desirous of keeping upon good terms with the favourite Buckingham, but it appears, notwithstanding, that he withstood him when he had just reason for it. He sometimes also gave Buckingham good advice, which being delivered with freedom, could not be very acceptable to the haughty favourite. His resolution in opposing Buckingham’s designs, when he saw weighty reasons for it, was so remarkable that the king used to say, that “he was a stout man, and durst do more than himself.James sometimes really appeared afraid of openly expressing his dislike at such of Buckingham’s actions as he really disapproved; and we are told that his majesty thanked God, that he had put Williams into the place of lord keeper; “for,” said he, “he that will not wrest justice for Buckingham’s sake, whom he loves, will never be corrupted with money which, he never loved.” And because the lord keeper had lived for the space of three years upon the bare revenues of his office, and was not richer by the sale of one cursitor’s place in all that time, his majesty gave him a bountiful new-year’s gift, thinking that it was but reasonable to encourage, by his liberality, a man who never sought after wealth by the sordid means of extortion or bribery.

The lord keeper made use of his influence with the king, in behalf of several noblemen who were under the royal displeasure and in confinement. He prevailed with his majesty to set at liberty the earl of Northumberland, who had been fifteen years a prisoner in the Tower. He | procured also the enlargement of the earls of Oxford and Arundel, both of whom had been a considerable time under confinement. He employed likewise his good offices with the king, in behalf of many others of inferior rank, particularly some clergymen who offended by their pulpit freedoms. One instance we shall extract from his principal biographer, as a proof of his address, and knowledge of king James’s peculiar temper. A Mr. Knight, a young divine at Oxford, had advanced in a sermon somewhat which was said to be derogatory to the king’s prerogative. For this he was a long time imprisoned, and a charge was about to be drawn up against him, to impeach him for treasonable doctrine. One Dr. White, a clergyman far advanced in years, was likewise in danger of a prosecution of the same kind. Bishop Williams was very desirous of bringing both these gentlemen off, and hit on the following contrivance. Some instructions had been appointed to be drawn up by his care and direction, for the performance of useful and orderly preaching; which being under his hand to dispatch, he now besought his majesty that this proviso might pass among the rest, that none of the clergy should be permitted to preach before the age of thirty years, nor after three-score. “On my soul,” said the king, “the devil, or some fit of madness is in the motion; for I have many great wits, and of clear distillation, that have preached before me at Royston and Newmarket to my great liking, that are under thirty. And my prelates and chaplains, that are far stricken in years, are the best masters of that faculty that Europe affords.” “I agree to all this,” answered the lord keeper, “and since your majesty will allow both young and old to go up into the pulpit, it is but justice that you shew indulgence to the young ones if they run into errors before their wits be settled (for every apprentice is allowed to mar some work before he be cunning in the mystery of his trade), and pity to the old ones, if some of them fall into dotage when their brains grow dry. Will your majesty conceive displeasure,’ and not Jay it down, if the former set your teeth on edge sometimes, before they are mellow- wise and if the doctrine of the latter be touched with a blemish, when they begin to be rotten, and to drop from the tree?” “This is not unfit for consideration,” said the king, “but what do you drive at?” “Sir,” replied Williams, “first to beg your pardon for mine own boldness; then to remember you that Knight is | a beardless boy, from whom exactness of judgment could not be expected. And that White is a decrepit, spent man, who had not a fee-simple, but a lease of reason, and it is expired. Both these that have been foolish in their several extremes of years, I prostrate at the feet of your princely clemency.” In consequence, of this application, king James readily granted a pardon to both of them.

Bishop Williams continued in favour during this reign, and attended king James at his death, and preached his funeral-sermon, on 2 Chron. ix. 29, 30, 3 1 which was afterwards printed. That king had promised to confer upon him the archbishopric of York at the next vacancy; but his lordship’s conduct in many points not being agreeable to the duke of Buckingham, he was removed by Charles I. from his post of lord keeper, Oct. 1626. He was ordered also not to appear in parliament, but refused to comply with that order, and taking his seat in the House of Peers, promoted the petition of right.

For four years after Williams was consecrated bishop of Lincoln, the multiplicity of his affairs prevented his visiting his clergy, yet his government, it is said, was such as to give content to his whole diocese. He managed the affairs of it with the greatest exactness by faithful substitutes, who gave him a just account of all matters, so that he knew the name and character of every one of his clergy, and took care to encourage the deserving. When now, however, he came to Bugden, he found it necessary to repair his house, and the chapel, which he did at a great expence, and in a magnificent manner. The concourse that resorted to this chapel was very great; and his table was generally well filled with gentry, so that the historian Sanderson, who is no friend to Williams, said, that “he lived at Bugden more episcopally than any of his predecessors.” All the great persons and nobility who had occasion to travel that way, used to call upon his lordship, from whom they and their retinue were sure of a hearty welcome, and the best entertainment. All the neighbouring clergy also, and many of the yeomanry, were free to come to his table, and, indeed, he seldom sat down without some of the clergy. He was also extremely charitable to the poor, and used to say, that " he would spend his own while he had it; for he thought his adversaries would not permit him long to enjoy it.‘ 7 Had he not lived in this hospitable manner, yet his conversation, and agreeable | manner of accommodating himself to his guests, were so generally pleasing, that he was not likely to be much alone. Many members of both universities, the moit distinguished for thejr wit and learning, made him frequent visits; so that very often, taking the company and entertainment together, Bugden was said to resemble one of the universities in commencement time. It was his custom, at his table, to have a chapter in the English Bible read daily at dinner by one of the choristers, and another at supper in Latin by one of his gentlemen.

This hospitable and splendid manner of living gave offence to the court, as he was publicly known to be out of favour there. It was said, that such a mode of living was very improper for a man in disgrace. To which he replied, that “he knew not what he had done, to live the worse for their sakes, who did not love him.” His family was the nursery of several noblemen’s sons; particularly those of the marquis of Hertford, and of the earls of Pembroke, Salisbury, and Leicester. These, together with many other young gentlemen, had tutors assigned them, of whom our prelate took an account, how their pupils improved in virtue and learning. To those who were about to be removed to the universities, before he parted with them, he read himself a brief system of logic, which lectures even his own servants might attend Who were capable of such instruction: and he took particular care that they should be thoroughly grounded in the principles of religion. He was exceedingly liberal to poor scholars in both universities; and his disbursements this way are said every year to have amounted to a thousand, and sometimes to twelve hundred pounds. He was also very generous to learned foreigners. When Dr. Peter du Moulin fled to England, to avoid persecution in France, bishop Williams hearing of him, sent his chaplain, Dr. Hacket, to pay him a visit, and supposing that he might be in want, bade him carry him some money, not naming any sum. Hacket said, that he supposed he could not give him less than twenty pounds. “1 did demur upon the sum,” said the bishop, “to try you. Is twenty pounds a fit gift for me to give to a man of his parts and deserts? Take an hundred, and present it from me, and tell him, he shall not want, and I will come shortly and visit him myself;” which he afterwards did, and supplied Du Moulin’s wants while he was in England. He was also a liberal patron of | his countryman John Owen, the epigrammatist, whom he maintained for several years, and when he died he buried him, and erected a monument for him at his own expence.

In the mean time, the duke of Buckingham was not content with having removed our prelate from all power at court, but for a long time laboured to injure him, although some time before his death he appears to have beet) rather reconciled to him. With Laud, however, Williams found all reconciliation impossible, for which it is not easy to assign any cause, unless that their political principles were in some respects incompatible, and that Laud was somewhat jealous of the ’ascendancy which Williams might acquire, if again restored at court. In consequence of this animosity, besides being deprived of the title of privycounsellor, Williams was perpetually iiarassecl with lawsuits and prosecutions; and though nothing criminal could be proved against him, yet he was, by these means, put to great trouble and expence. Amongst other prosecutions, one arose from the following circumstances, as related by his biographer Hacket. “In the conference which the bishop had with his majestv, when he was admitted to kiss his hand, after the passing of the petition of Right, the king conjuring his lordsh;p to tell him freely, hovr he might best ingratiate himself with the people, his lordship replied, ‘ that the Puritans were many and strong sticklers and if his majesty would give but private orders to his ministers to connive a little at their party, and shew them some indulgence, it might perhaps mollify them a little, and make them more pliant; though he did not promise that they would be trusty long to any government.’ And the king answered, that ‘ he had thought upon this before, and would do so.’ About two months after this, the bishop at his court at Leicester acted according to this counsel resolved upon by his majesty; and withal told sir John Lamb and Dr. Sibthorp his reason for it, ‘ that it was not only his own, but the Royal pleasure.’ Now Lamb was one, who had been formerly infinitely obliged to the bishop: but, however, a breach happening between them, he and Sibthorp carried the bishop’s words to bishop Laud, and he to the king, who was then at Bisham. Hereupon it was resolved, that upon the-deposition of these two, a bill should be dra-wn up against the bishop for revealing the king’s secrets, being a sworn counsellor. That in | formation, together with some others, being transmitted to the council-table, was ordered for the present to be sealed up, and committed to the. custody of Mr. Trumbal, one of the clerks of the council. Nevertheless the bishop made a shift to procure a copy of them, and so the business rested for some years. However, the bishop was still more and more declining in favour, by reason of a settled misunderstanding between him and bishop Laud, who looked upon Williams as a man who gave encouragement to the Puritans, and was cool with respect to our church-discipline; while, on the other hand, Williams took Laud to be a great favourer of the papists. Laud’s interest at court was now so great, that in affairs of state, as well as of the church, he governed almost without controul; so that a multitude of lesser troubles surrounded bishop Williams, and several persons attacked him with a view to ingratiate themselves at court. Abundance of frivolous accusation and little vexatious law-suits were brought against hirn daily; and it was the height of his adversaries policy to empty his purse, and clip his wings, by all the means they could invent, that so at last he might lie wholly at their mercy, and not be able to shift for himself. Notwithstanding all which, what with his innocency, and what with his courage springing from it, he bore up against them all> and never shewed any grudge or malice against them. But his lordship, perceiving himself to be thus perpetually harassed, asked the lord Cottington, whether he could tell him, what he should do to procure his peace, and such other ordinary favours as other bishops had from his majesty. To which the lord Cottington answered, that the splendor in which he lived, and the great resort of company which came to him, gave offence; and that the king must needs take it ill, that one under the height of his displeasure should live at so magnificent a rate. In the next place, his majesty would be better satisfied, if he would resign the deanery of Westminster, because he did not care that he should be so near a neighbour at Whitehall. As for the first of these reasons, his natural temper would not suffer him to comply with it, and to moderate his expences in house-keeping; and he was not so shortsighted as to part with his deanery upon such precarious terms;” for,“said he,” what health can come from such a remedy? Am I like to be beholden to them for a settled tranquillity, who practise upon the ruin of my estate, and | the thrall of my honour? If I forfeit one preferment for fear, will it not encourage them to tear me in piecemeal hereafter? It is not my case alone, but every man’s; and if the law cannot maintain my right, it can maintain no man’s.“So, in spite of all their contrivances to out him, he kept the deanery till the king received it from him at Oxford in 1644. But they did all they could, since he was resolved to hold it, to make him as uneasy as possible in it. In this uneasy situation he continued several years; and now it was sufficiently known to all people how much he was out of favour; so that it was looked upon as a piece of merit to assist in his ruin. And this perhaps might be some incitement to what sir Robert Osborn, high sheriff of Huntingdonshire, acted against him in the levying of the ship-money. The bishop, for his part, was very cautious to carry himself without offence in this matter; but sir Robert, laying a very unequal levy upon the hundred wherein Bugden was, the bishop wrote courteously to him to rectify it, and that he and his neighbours would be ready to see it collected. Upon this sir Robert, catching at the opportunity, posts up to the court, and makes an heavy complaint against the bishop, that he not only refused the payment of ship-money himself, but likewise animated the hundred to do so too. And yet for all that, when the bishop afterwards cleared himself before the lords of the council, and they were satisfied that he had behaved himself with duty and prudence, sir Robert was not reprehended, nor had the bishop any satisfaction given him, nor was the levy regulated. After this, was revived the long and troublesome trial against the bishop in the Star-chamber, which commenced in the fourth year of king Charles I. upon some informations brought against him by Lamb and Sibthorp. Here he made so noble a defence of himself, that the attorney-general, Noy, grew weary of the cause, and slackened his prosecution; but that great lawyer dying, and the information being managed by Kilvert a solicitor, the bishop, when the business came to a final determination, was fined 10,000l. to the king, and to suffer imprisonment during his majesty’s pleasure, and withal to be suspended by the high commission court from all his dignities, offices, and functions. In his imprisonment in the Tower, hearing that his majesty would not abate any thing of his fine, he desired that it might be taken up by 1000l. yearly, as his estate would bear it, till the whole should | be paid; but he could not have so small a favour granted. Upon which Kilvert, the bishop’s avowed enemy, waTs ordered to go to Bugclen and Lincoln, and there to seize upon all he could, and bring it immediately into the exchequer. Kilvert, being glad of this office, made sure of all that could be found; goods of all sorts, plate, books, and such like, to the value of iO.Ooo/. of which he never gave account but of 800l. The timber he felled; killed the deer in the park; sold an organ, which cost \2Ql. for 10l.; pictures, which cost 400l. for 5l.; made away with what books he pleased, and continued revelling for three summers in Bugden-house. For four cellars of wine, cyder, ale, and beer, with wood, hay, corn, and the like, stored up for a year or two, he gave no account at all. And thus a large personal estate was squandered away, and not the least part of the king’s fine paid all this while; whereas if it had been managed to the best advantage, it would have been sufficient to discharge the whole. It were endless to repeat all the contrivances against his lordship during his confinement; the bills which were drawn up, and the suits commenced against him, as it were on purpose to impoverish him, and to plunge him into debt, that so, if he procured his enlargement from this prison, he might not be long out of another. However, he bore all these afflictions with the utmost patience; and if a stranger had seen his lordship in the Tower, he would never have taken him for a prisoner, but rather for the lord and master of the place. For here he lived with his usual cheerfulness and hospitality, and wanted only a larger allowance to give his guests an heartier welcome; for now he was confined to bare 500l. a year, a great part of which was consumed in the very fees of the Tower. He diverted himself, when alone, sometimes with writing Latin poems; at other times with the histories of such as were noted for their sufferings in former ages. And for the three years and a half that he was confined, he was the same man as elsewhere, excepting that his frequent law-suits broke his studies often; and it could not be seen that he was the least altered in his health or the pleasantness of his temper.

At length when the parliament met in November 1640, bishop Williams petitioned the king for his enlargement, and to have his writ of summons to parliament, which his majesty thought proper to refuse but about a fortnight after, the House of Lords sent the gentleman- usher of the | black rod to demand him of the lieutenant of the Tower, in. consequence of which he took his seat among his brethren. Some being set on to try how he stood affected to his prosecutors, he answered, that “if they had no worse foes than him, they might fear no harm; and that he saluted them with the charity of a bishop;” and when Kilvert came to him to crave pardon and indemnity for all the wrongs he had done, “I assure you pardon,” said the bishop, “for what you have done before; but this is a new fault, that you take me to be of so base a spirit, as to defile myself with treading upon so mean a creature. Live still by petty-fogging and impeaching, and think that I have forgotten you.” And now the king, understanding with what courage and temper he had behaved himself under his misfortunes, was pleased to be reconciled to him; and commanded all orders, filed or kept in any court or registry upon the former informations against him, to be taken off, razed, and cancelled, that nothing might stand upon record to his disadvantage.

When the earl of StrafFord came to be impeached in parliament, Williams defended the rights of the bishops, in a very significant speech, to vote in case of blood, as Racket relates; but lord Clarendon relates just the contrary. He says, that this bishop, without communicating with any of his brethren, very frankly declared his opinion, that '< they ought not to be present; and offered, not only in his own name, but for the rest of the bishops, to withdraw always when that business was entered upon:“and so, adds the noble historian, betrayed a fundamental right of the whole order, to the great prejudice of the king, and to the taking away the life of that person, who could not otherwise have suffered. Shortly after, when the king declared, that he neither would, nor could in conscience, give his royal assent to that act of attainder; and when the tumultuous citizens came about the court with noise and clamour for justice; the lord Say desired the king to confer with his bishops for the satisfaction of his conscience, and with bishop Williams in particular, who told him, says lord Clarendon, that” he must consider, that as he had a private capacity and a public, so he had a public conscience as well as a private: that though his private conscience, as a man, would not permit him to do an act contrary to his own understanding, judgment, and conscience, yet his public conscience as a king, which obliged him to do all things for the good of his | people, and to preserve his kingdom in peace for himself and his posterity, would not only permit him to do that, but even oblige and require him; that he saw in what commotion the people were; that his own life, and that of the queen and the royal issue, might probably be sacrificed to that fury: and it would be very strange, if his conscience should prefer the right of one single private person, how innocent soever, before all those other lives and the preservation of the kingdom. This,“continues lord Clarendon,” was the argumentation of that unhappy casuist, who truly, it may be, did believe himself:“yet he reveals another anecdote, which shews, at least if true, that bishop Williams could have no favourable intentions towards the unfortunate earl of Strafford. It had once been mentioned to the bishop, when he was out at court, whether by authority or no was not known, says the historian, that” his peace should te made there, if he would resign his bishopric and deanery of Westminster, and take a good bishopric in Ireland:“which he positively refused, and said,” he had much to do to defend himself against the archbishop (Laud) here; but, if he was in Ireland, there was a man (meaning the earl of Strafford) who would cut off his head within one month."

In 1641, he was advanced to the archbishopric of York; and the same year opposed, in a long speech, the bill for depriving the bishops of their seats in the House of Lords; which had this effect, that it laid the bill asleep for five months. Then the mob flocked about the parliament-house, crying out, “No bishops, no bishops;” and insulted the prelates, as they passed to the House. Williams was one of the bishops who was most rudely treated by the rabble; his person was assaulted, and his robes torn from his back. Upon this, he returned to his house, the deanery of Westminster; and sending for all the bishops then in the town, who were in number twelve, proposed, as absolutely necessary, that “they might unanimously and presently prepare a protestation, to send to the House, against the force that was used upon them; and against all the acts which were or should be done during the time that they should by force be kept from doing their duties in the House;” and immediately, having pen and ink ready, himself prepared a protestation, which was sent. But the politic bishop Williams is here represented to have been transported by passion into impolitic measures; for, no sooner | was this protestation communicated to the House than the governing Lords manifested a great satisfaction in it; some of them saying, that “there was digitus Dei to bring that to pass, which they could not otherwise have compassed:” and, without ever declaring any judgment or opinion of their own upon it, sent to desire a conference with the Commons, who presently joined with them in accusing the protesters of high treason, and sending them all to the Tower; where they continued till the bill for putting them out of the House was passed, which was not till many months after. Lord Clarendon says, there was only one gentleman in the House of Commons that spoke in the behalf of these prelates; who said, among other things, that “he did not believe they were guilty of high treason, but that they were stark-mad, and therefore desired they might be sent to Bedlam.

In June 1642, the king being at York, our archbishop was enthroned in person in his own cathedral, but, soon after the king had left York, which was in July following, was obliged to leave it too; the younger Hotham, who was coming thither with his forces, having sworn solemnly to seize and kill him, for some opprobrious words spoken of him concerning his usage of the king at Hull. He retired to his estate at Aber Con way, and fortified Con way-castle for the king; which so pleased his majesty, that by a letter, Oxford, Aug. the 1st, 1643, the king “heartily desired him to go on with that work, assuring him, that, whatever moneys he should lay out upon the fortification of the said castle should be repayed unto him before the custody thereof should be put into any other hand than his own, or such as he should command.” By virtue of a warrant, Jan. 2, 1643-4, the archbishop deputes his nephew William Hooks, esq. to have the custody of this castle; and, some time after, being sent for, set out to attend the king at Oxford, whom he is said to have cautioned particularly against Cromwell, who, “though then of but mean rank and use in the army, yet would be sure to rise higher. I knew him,” says he, “at Buckden; but never knew his religion. He was a common spokesman for sectaries, and maintained their parts with stubbornness. He never discoursed as if he were pleased with your majesty and your great officers; indeed he loves none that are more than his equals. Your majesty did him but justice in repulsing a petition put up by him against sir Thomas Steward, of the Isle of Ely; but | he takes them all for his enemies that would not let him undo his hest friend; and, above all that live, I think he is injuriarum perscquentissimus^ as Portius Latro said of Catiline. He talks openly, that it is fit some should act more vigorously against your forces, and bring your person into the power of the parliament. He cannot give a good word of his general the eajl of Essex; because, he says, the earl is but half an enemy to your majesty, and hath done you more favour than harm. His fortunes are broken, that it is impossible for him to subsist, much less to be what he aspires to, but by your majesty’s bounty, or by the ruin of us all, and a common confusion; as one said, ‘ Lentulus salva republica salvus esse non potuit.’ In shprt, every beast hath some evil properties; but Cromwell hath the properties of all evil beasts. My humble motion is, either that you would win him to you by promises of fair treatment, or catch him by some stratagem, and cut him off.

After some stay at Oxford, he returned to his own country, having received a fresh charge from his majesty to take care of all North Wales, but especially of Conwaycastle, in which the people of the country had obtained leave of the archbishop to lay up all their valuables. A year after this, sir John Owen, a colonel for the king, marching that way after a defeat, obtained of prince Rupert to be substituted under his hand commander of the castle.; and so surprising it by force entered it, notwithstanding it was before given to the bishop under the king’s own signet, to possess it quietly, till the charges he had been at should be refunded him, which as yet had never been offered. The archbishop’s remonstrances at court meeting with no success, he being joined by the countrypeople, whose properties were detained in the castle, and assisted by one colonel Mitton, who was a zealous man for the parliament, forced open the gates, and entered it. The archbishop did not join the colonel with any intention to prejudice his majesty’s service, but agreed to put him into the castle, on condition that every proprietary should possess his own, which the Qolonel saw performed.

After the king was beheaded, the archbishop spent hig days in sorrow, study, and devotion; and is said to have risen constantly every night out of his bed at midnight, and to have prayed for a quarter of an hour on his bare knees, without any thing but his shirt and waistcoat on. He lived | not much above a year after, dying the 25th of March 1650 he was buried in Llandegay church, where a monument was erected to him by his nephew and heir, sir Griffith Williams. Besides several sermons, he published a book against archbishop Laud’s innovations in church-matters and religious ceremonies, with this title, “The Holy Table, Name, and Thing, more antiently, properly, and literally, used under the New Testament, than that of Altar. Written long ago by a minister in Lincolnshire, in answer to D. Coel, a judicious divine of queen Marie’s dayes. Printed for the diocese of Lincoln, 1637;” in quarto. Lord Clarendon, though far from being favourable 10 this prelate, yet represents this “book so full of good learning, and that learning so closely and solidly applied, tnough it abounded with too many light expressions, that it gained him reputation enough to be able to do hurt; and shewed, that in his retirement he had spent his time with his books very profitably. He used all the wit and all the malice he could, to awaken the people to a jealousy of these agitations, and innovations in the exercise of religion; not without insinuations that it aimed at greater alterations, for which he knew the people would quickly find a name: and he was ambitious to have it believed, that the archbishop Laud was his greatest enemy, for his having constantly opposed his rising to any government in the church, as a man whose hot and hasty spirit he had long known.

In the mean time, there have not been wanting those, who, without disguising his infirmities, have set archbishop Williams in a better light than we find him represented by the earl of Clarendon, who seems by no means to have loved the man. Arthur Wilson tells us, that, “though he was composed of many grains of good learning, yet the height of his spirit, I will not say pride, made him odious even to those that raised him; haply because they could not attain to those ends by him, that they required of him. But being of a comely and stately presence, and that animated with a great mind, made him appear very proud to the vulgar eye; but that very temper raised him to aim at great things, which he affected: for the old ruinous body of the abbey-church at Westminster was new clothed by him; the fair and beautiful library of St. John’s in Cambridge was a pile of his erection; and a very complete chapel built by him at Lincoln-college in Oxford, merely for the name of Lincoln, having no interest in nor relation; | to that university. But that which heightened him most in the opinion of those that knew him best, was his bountiful mind to men in want; being a great patron to support, where there was merit that wanted supply: but these great actions were not publicly visible: those were more apparent that were looked on with envious, rather than with emulous eyes.

Hacket likewise, after observing that he was a man of great hospitality, charity, and generosity, especially to gentlemen of narrow fortunes, and poor scholars in both universities, informs us that his disbursements this way every year-amounted to 1000l. or sometimes 1200l. Hacket had reason to know his private character; for he was his chaplain, and although he may be supposed partial to so eminent a benefactor, the character he gives of archbishop Williams is, in general, not only consistent with itself, but with some contemporary authorities. He appears, amidst all his secular concerns, to have entertained a strong sense of the importance of religion, When a divine once came to him for institution to a living, Williams expressed himself thus; “I have passed through many places of honour and trust, both in church and state, more than any of my order in England these seventy years before. But were I but assured, that by my preaching I had converted but one soul unto God, I should take therein more spiritual joy and comfort, than in all the honours and offices which have been bestowed upon me.

Archbishop Williams undertook a Latin Commentary on the Bible; and the notes collected from various authors by his own hand were formerly in the custody of Mr. Gouland, keeper of Westminster-college library. His lordship knowing well, that to perform such a task completely was above the abilities of any one man, intended to leave it to be finished by twelve or more of the best scholars in the nation, whom he had in his eye, and was willing to give them twenty thousand pounds rather than it should be left unfinished. He likewise resolved, as noticed by Dr. Pegge, in his valuable life of that prelate, to publish the works of his predecessor bishop Grosthead, which were scattered in several libraries at home and abroad, and he digested what he could procure of them, and wrote arguments upon various parts of them. 1


Hackt’s Life of Abp. Williams, fol. Phillips’s and Steevens’s Lives, 8vo. Clarendon’s Hist. Lloyd’s Worthies, Biog. Brit.