Boys, John

, dean of Canterbury, descended from John de Bosco, who entered England with theConqueror, and allied to a family so opulent and extensive as to be divided into eight branches, each residing in their respective seats in the county of Kent, was born in 1571. He was the fourth son of Thomas Boys of Eythorne in that county, esq. hy Christian, daughter and co-heiress of John Seajles, of Wye, esq. Having most probably received the earlier | part of his education at the king’s school in Canterbury, he went to Cambridge in 1586, where he became a scholar of Corpus Christi college, and proceeded to the degree of M. A. in 1593> He was about this time elected to a fellowship of Clare-hall, which is appropriated to a native of Kent.

He entered on the duties of a parish priest first at Hollingbourne in his native county, of which place, however, he was not the vicar, as Mr. Masters conjectures; and to the inhabitants of it he dedicated his Exposition of the Festival Epistles and Gospels. In 1597, he was preferred by his uncle, sir John Boys, who had been the patron of his studies at the university, to the rectory of Bettishanger near Deal. In the same year he was also collated by archbishop Whitgift to the mastership of East-bridge hospital in Canterbury. In 1599, the same patron presented him to the vicarage of Tilmanstone, adjoining to Bettishanger. He had now acquired the character of a distinguished theologist, and proceeded soon afterwards to the degree of D. D. He was likewise what then was termed “a painful preacher,” one who in preaching was frequent and laborious, as his works testify, which were all delivered originally in the pulpit.

His merit becoming known to James I. he was appointed one of the first fellows of Chelsea-college; but that scheme, as we have had occasion to remark in the preceding article, never having been carried into execution, his title was only nominal. Of this college we shall give some account in the life of Dr. Sutclifte the founder. In 1618, Dr. Boys was collated by archbishop Abbot to the rectory of Great Mongeham, adjoining also to his benefice of Bettishanger, and resigned the vicarage of Tilmanstone. On the death of Mr. Fotherby, king James promoted him to the deanry of Canterbury, to which he was admitted May 3, 1619; but this preferment he did not enjoy long, dying suddenly in his study Sept. 26, 1625, aged fifty-four.

If we examine his “Postils,” or the Defence of our Liturgy, we shall have reason to admire his unwearied diligence, and his profound knowledge; to respect him as a scholar and a divine. His style, indeed, partakes of the quaintness of the age, but upon the whole we think him less blameable on this score than some of his contemporaries. His main object was opposition to popery. He accordingly attacks the pope both with unsparing ridicule. | and with elaborate argument. In a sermon preached on the Gunpowder treason, he introduced a parody on the Lord’s Prayer in Latin, “Papa noster qui es llomae, maledicetur nomen tuum, intereat regnum tuum, impediatur voluntas tua, sicut in coelo sic et in terra. Potum nostrum in ccena dominica da nobis hodie, et remitte nummos nustros quos tibi dedimus ob indulgentias, et ne nos indticas in haeresin, sed libera nos a miseria, quoniam tuum est infernum, pix et sulphur in saecula sseculorurn.” Granger gives this prayer in English, as if Dr. Boys had used it in that language, and adds, what he certainly could not know, that “he gained great applause by turning the Lord’s Prayer into an execration.” The truth is, he only quoted it, saying “I have another prayer, and forasmuch as it is in Latin, &c.” It occurs in a ms. of sir Henry Fynes, who says he found it in an old book. Sir Henry Fynes was born in 1587, and Dr. Boys’s works could not be deemed an old book in his time.

His “Postils,” a series of Sermons on the book of Common Prayer, Epistles, and Gospels, &c. were first published in 1614, 4to; and afterwards reprinted in folio, 1622 and 1629, with some additional lectures. The editions of 1622 and 1629 have an engraved frontispiece, with four portraits of the author in different attitudes. After his death his remains, viz. “Certaine Sermons,” were printed, 1631, 4to. He is also said to have written a “Defence of bishop Andrews’s Tortura Torti,” against Becanus the Jesuit. The manuscript of his Postils was deposited by his nephew Edward in the library of Bene’t college, Cambridge.

He married Angela, the daughter of Robert Bargrave of Bridge, in the county of Kent, esq. and sister to his successor dean Bargrave. She survived him many years, and was rudely treated by the rebels in 1642, at the age of eighty. To his memory a very fine monument was placed by her, in the dean’s chapel, in Canterbury cathedral, where he was buried. 1


Todd’s Deans of Canterbury. Masters’s Hist, of C. C. C. C. Fuller’s Worthies. Wood’s Fasti, vol. I. Granger’s History and Letters, p. 121, 204. Cent. Mag. vol. XLII. p. 60, 61.