Bancroft, John

, bishop of Oxford in the reigo of king Charles I. and nephew of the preceding Dr. Richard Bancroft, archbishop of Canterbury, was born at Asteli, or Estwell, a small village between Whitney and Burford ^n Oxfordshire, and admitted a student of Christ-church in Oxford in 1592, being then about eighteen years of age. Having taken the degrees in arts, and entered into holy orders, he became a preacher tur some years in and near Oxford. In 1609, being newly admitted to proceed in divinity, he was, through the interest and endeavours of his uncle, elected head of University college, in which station he continued above twenty years, and was at great pains and expence in recovering and settling the ancient lands belonging to that foundation. In 1632 he was advanced to the see of Oxford, upon the translation of Dr. Corbet to that of Norwich, and consecrated about the 6th of June. This prelate died in 1640, and was buried at Cuddesden in Oxfordshire, the 12th of February, leaving behind him, among the Puritans or Presbyterians, the character of a corrupt, unpreaching, Popish prelate. This bishop Bancroft built a house or pakce, for the residence of his successors, at Cuddesden. Before his time the bishops of Oxford had no house left belonging to their see, either in city or country, but dwelt at their parsonage-houses, which they held in commendam; though Dr. John Bridges, who had no commendam in his diocese, lived for the most part in hired houses in the city. For though, at the foundation of the bishopric of Oxford, in trie abbey of Osney, Gloucester college was appointed for the bishop’s palace, yet, when that foundation was inspected into by king Edward VI. that place was left out of the charter, as being then designed for another use. So that afterwards the bishops of Oxford had no settled house or palace, till Bancroft came to the see, who, at the instigation of archbishop Laud, resolved to build-one*. In the first place, therefore, in order to improve the slender revenues of the bishopric, he suffered the lease of the impropriate parsonage of Cuddesden aforesaid, live miles distant from Oxford (which belonged to the bishop in right of his see) to run out, without | any more renewing. In the mean time, the vicarage of his own donation becoming vacant, he procured himself to be legally instituted and inducted thereunto and afterwards, through the archbishop’s favour, obtained an annexation of it to the episcopal see, the design of the iinpropriatioa’i falling in still going on. Soon after, with the help of a large quantity of timber from the forest of Shotover, given him by the king, he began to build a fine palace, which, with a chapel in it, was completely finished in 1634. The summer after, it was visited out of curiosity by archbishop Laud, who speaks of it in his Diary thus " September the second, an. 1635, I was in attendance with the king at Woodstock, and went thence to Cudsden, to see the house which Dr John Bancroft, then lord bishop of Oxford, had there built, to be a house for the bishops of that see for ever he having built that house at my persuasion/' But this house, which cost 3500l. proved almost as shortlived as the founder for, in the latter end of 1644, it was burnt down by colonel William Legg, then governor of the garrison of Oxford, to prevent its being garrisoned by the parliament forces. It lay in ruins till 1679, when Dr. John Fell, bishop of Oxford, at his own expence, and with the help of timber laid in for that purpose by Dr. William Paul, one of his predecessors, rebuilt it upon the old foundation, with a chapel in it, as at first. 1

1 Biog. Brit. —Ath. Ox, re). I. Wood’s Antiquities, and Colleges and Halls