Broughton, Hugh

, a divine of great eminence for his extensive knowledge in Hebrew and rabbinical learning, was descended from an ancient family, and born in 1549, at Oldbury, in the county of Salop. Dr. Lightfoot says, that it is uncertain in what school he was instructed in grammar, but, according to the writers of the life of Bernard Gilpin, he was brought up in the school founded by that excellent man at Houghton, and by him sent to Cambridge. Gilpin is said to have become acquainted with him by accident, when he was a poor boy travelling on the Oxford road, and finding him a good scholar, took the charge of his farther education. The biographer of Gilpin adds, apparently upon slender foundation, that Broughton acted with ingratitude to Gilpin, when the latter was old and infirm, and persuaded the bishop of Durham to give him a living intended for Gilpin.

At Cambridge, Broughton became one of the fellows of Christ’s college, and there laid the first foundation of his Hebrew studies, under a Frenchman, who read upon that tongue in the university. His parts and learning soon rendered him very conspicuous at Cambridge, and also attracted the notice of the earl of Huntingdon, who became a liberal patron to him, and greatly encouraged him in his studies. From the university he repaired to London, where he distinguished himself as a preacher, and increased the number of his friends, some of whom were of high rank. He still, however, continued to prosecute his studies with the most unremitting assiduity; so that he is said frequently to have spent sixteen hours out of the fourand-twenty at his books .*


The author of his life in the Biog. Brit, takes no notice of his having been collated to a prebend of Durham, Nov. 13, 1578, and to Washington rectory, May 6, 1580, when, he resigned his prebend. Hutchinson’s Durham, vol. II. p. 209. But we know not whether there is not some reason to suspect that Hutchinson’s Broughton was a different person.

In 1588, he published a piece, entitled “The Consent of Scriptures.” This was a work in which he was employed several years; and which, therefore, he used to call his “little book of grest pains.” It is a kind of scripture chronology, and scripture genealogies, and appears to have been compiled with great labour. It was dedicated to queen Elizabeth, to whom it was presented by himself, on her inauguration day, Nov. 17, 1589 .

Query. Was this the copy on vellum mentioned by Mr. Dibdin in his Bibliomania, and once in Mr. Tutet’s possession?

He appears
| to have had some assistance in it from Speed, who overlooked the press, and compiled those genealogies which are prefixed to the old Bibles; but Broughton certainly directed and digested them. Speed is said to have owed many obligations to Broughton, and had a vast number of his manuscripts, which, for whatever reason, he burnt. But, to return to the “Consent of Scripture;” it excited much attention at its first publication, but was strongly opposed by Dr. Reynolds at Oxford. This gave great offc-nce to Mr. Broughton, who had a very earnest and absurd desire to have the dispute between him and Dr. Reynolds, concerning the scripture chronology, settled by public authority. He addressed on this subject queen Elizabeth, Dr. Whitgift, archbishop of Canterbury, and Dr. Aylmer, bishop of London. His work was opposed, not only at Oxford, but at Cambridge, where Mr. Lively, a professor, read publicly against it. He was, therefore, induced to read lectures in defence of his performance, which he did first in St. Paul’s, at the east end of the church, and afterwards in a large room in Cheapside, and in Mark-lane *.

He continued several years in London, where he procured many friends. One of these was Mr. William Cotton, whose son Rowland, who was afterwards knighted, he instructed in the Hebrew tongue. In 1589 Mr. Broughton went over into Germany, accompanied by Mr. Alexander Top, a young gentleman who had put himself under his care, and travelled with him, that he might continually receive the benefit of his instructions. He was some time at Frankfort, where he had a long dispute in the Jewish synagogue, with rabbi Elias, on the truth of the Christian religion. He appears to have been very solicitous for the conversion of the Jews, and his taste for


This was his course of teaching in private. His auditors had every one of them the Consent before him, and he went on still in exposition of it along with the Bible, and bad his auditors diligently read the Scriptures, and keep them to the chronology of it: and shewed what, and how much they should read against their next meeting, to be prepared for his discourse then, And withal handled the Genealogies, as the matter of those scriptures called for explication for that time of the chronology; that they should understand what scriptures were contained within such a space of time. And still he shewed the doctrine of faith and love in Christ Jesus in every age, how believed and practised by the faithful, and who despised. And, in application, he would sum up all in a quarter of an hour, or more, as the matter required. Of these his lectures there are yet extant the notes of four-andthirty, and the notes of nine of his sermons, in which he collated the sections of Moses, and the Prophets, with the New Testament all taken from hi mouth, when he delivered them."
Lightfoot’s preface to his works.

| rabbinical and Hebrew studies naturally led him to take pleasure in the conversation of those learned Jews whom he occasionally met with. In the course of his travels, he had also disputes with the papists; but in hig contests both with them and with the Jews, he was not very attentive to the rules either of prudence or politeness. It appears, that in 1590 he was at Worms; but in what other places is not mentioned. In 1591 he returned again to England, and met at London with his antagonist Dr. Reynolds; and they referred the -decision of the controversy between them, occasioned by his “Consent of Scripture,” to Dr. Whitgift, archbishop of Canterbury, and Dr. Aylmer, bishop of London. Another piece which he published, entitled “An Explication of the article of Christ’s Descent to Hell,” was a source of much controversy, though his opinion on this subject is now generally received. Two of his opponents in this controversy were archbishop Whitgift and bishop Bilson. He addressed on this subject “An Oration to the Geneveans,” which was first published in Greek, at Mentz, by Albinus. In this piece he treats the celebrated Beza with much severity. In 1592 he was in Germany again, and published a piece called “The Sinai Sight,” which he dedicated to the earl of Essex, and had the odd whim of having it engraved on brass, at a considerable expence. About the year 1596, rabbi Abraham Reuben wrote an epistle from Constantinople to Mr. Broughton, which was directed to him in London; but he was then in Germany. He appears to have continued abroad till the death of queen Elizabeth; and during his residence in foreign countries, cultivated an acquaintance with Scaliger, Raphelengius, Junius, Pistorius, Serrarius, and other eminent and learned men. He was treated with particular favour by the archbishop of Mentz, to whom he dedicated his translation of the Prophets into Greek. He was also offered a cardinal’s hat, if he wo<;ld have embraced the Romish religion. But that offer he retused to accept, and returned again to England, soon after the accession of king James I. In 1603 he preached before prince Henry, at Oatlands, upon the Lord!s Prayer. In 1607 the new translation of the Bible was begun; and Mr. Broughton’s friends expressed much surprize that he was not employed in that work. It might probably be disgust on this account, which again occasioned him to go abroad; and during his stay there, he was for some time puncher | to the English at Middleburgh. But finding his health decline, ‘having a consumptive disorder, which he found to increase, he returned again to England in November, 1611. He lodged in London, during the winter, at a friend’s house in Cannon-street; but in the spring he was removed, for the benefit of the air, to the house of another friend, at Tottenham High-cross, where he died of a pulmonary consumption on the 4th of August, 1612, in the sixty-third year of his age. During his illness he made such occasional discourses and exhortations to his friends, as his strength would enable him; and he appears to have had many friends and admirers’ even to the last. His corpse was brought to London, attended by great numbers of people, many of whom had put themselves in mourning for him; and interred in St. Amholin’s church, where his funeral sermon was preached by the rev. James Speght, B. D. afterwards D. D. minister of the church in Milkstreet, London. Lightfoot mentions it as a report, that the bishops would not suffer this sermon to be published; but it was afterwards printed at the end of his works.

His person was comely and graceful, and his countenance expressive of studiousness and gravity. His indefatigable attention to his studies, gave him an air of austerity; and, at times, there appears to have been no inconsiderable degree of moroseness in his deportment: notwithstanding which, he is represented as behaving in a very kind and affable manner to his friends, and as being very pleasant in conversation with them, especially at his meals. He would also be free and communicative to any persons who desired to learn of him, but very angry with scholars, if they did not readily comprehend his meaning. Open impiety and profaneness were always opposed by him with great zeal and courage. He was much dissatisfied, as appears from several passages in his works, that his great learning had not procured him more encouragement, and he evidently thought that he had a just claim to some considerable preferment. He was unquestionably a man of very uncommon erudition, but -extremely deficient in taste and judgment. He was also of a testy and choleric temper, had a high opinion of his own learning and abilities, was extremely dogmatical, and treated those who differed from him in opinion with much rudeness and scurrility; though some allowance must be made for the age in which he lived, in which that mode of writing was much | more common among divines and scholars than it is at present. From the general tenor of his life and of his works, and the opinion formed of him by those who were the best acquainted with him, it seems equitable to conclude, that, with all his failings, he meant well; nor do we apprehend that there is any sufficient ground for the extreme severity with which the late Mr. Gilpin has treated him in his “Lite of Bernard Gilpin.” He translated the Prophetical writings into Greek, and the Apocalypse into Hebrew. He was desirous of translating the whole New Testament into Hebrew, which he thought would have contributed much to the conversion of the Jews, if he had met with proper encouragement. And he relates, that a learned Jew with whom he conversed, once said to him, “O that you would set over all your New Testament into such Hebrew as you speak to me, you should turn all our nation.” Most of his works were collected together, and printed at London in 1662, under the following title: “The Works of the great Albionean divine, renowned in many nations for rare skill in Salems and Athens tongues, and familiar acquaintance with all Rabbinical learning, Mr. Hugh Broughton.” This edition o’f his works, though bound in one large volume, folio, is divided into four tomes. Dr. Lightfoot, who was himself a great rmister of Hebrew and rabbinical learning, says, that in the writings of Broughton, “the serious and impartial student of them will find these two things. First, as much light given in scripture, especially in the difficultest things thereof, as is to be found in any one author whatsoever; nay, it may be, in all authors together. And, secondly, a winning and enticing enforcement to read the scriptures with a seriousness and searching more than ordinary. Amongst those that have studied his books, multitudes might be named that have thereby grown proficients so far, as that they have attained to a most singular, and almost incredible skill and readiness, in his way, in the understanding of the Bible, though otherwise unlearned men. Nay, some such, that, by the mere excitation of his books, have set to the study of the Hebrew tongue, and come to a very great measure of knowledge in it; nay, a woman might be named that hath done it. This author’s writings do carry with them, I know not what, a kind of holy and happy fascination, that the serious reader of them is won upon, by a sweet violence, to look in the scripture with all | possible scrulinousness, and cannot choose. Let any one but set to read him in good earnest, and, if he find not, that he sees much more in scripture than ever he could see before, and that he is stirred up ’to search much more narrowly into the scripture than ever he was before, he misseth of that which was never missed of before by any that took that course, if multitude of experiences may have any credit.” It will justly be thought in the present age, that Dr. Lightfoot formed’too high an opinion of the value of Broughton’s writings; but in whatever estimation they may now be held, the celebrity of Broughton in his own time, and his extraordinary learning, gave him a reasonable claim to some memorial in a work of this kind. Many of his theological Mss. are preserved in the British Museum, of which a list is given in Ayscough’s catalogue. 1


Biog. Brit.—Strype’s Whitgtft, p. 81, 382, 431, 481, 499, 516, 526, 589, where there are many curious particulars illustrative of Broughton’s history.