Cooper, Thomas

, a learned English bishop, was born at Oxford about 1517, and educated in the school adjoining to Magdalen college; and, having made great progress in grammar learning, and gained high reputation, he was there elected first demy, then probationer in 1539, and perpetual fellow the year after. He quitted his fellowship in 1546, being then married, as it is supposed; and when queen Mary came to the crown, applied himself to the study of physic, and, faking a bachelor’s degree, practised it at Oxford, because he was secretly inclined to the Protestant religion; but upon the death of that queen, he returned to his former study of divinity. March 156,7, he took the degree of D.D. and about that time was made dean of Christ-church. In 1569 he was made dean of Gloucester, and the year after bishop of Lincoln. July 1572, he preached a sermon at St. Paul’s cross, in vindication of the church of England and its liturgy; to which an answer was sent him by a disaffected person, which answer Strype has printed at length in his “Annals of the Reformation.” In 1577 the queen sent him a letter to put a stop to those public exercises called prophesyings, in his diocese. These prophesyings were grounded upon 1 Cor. xiv. 31. “Ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.” They were set on foot in several parts of the kingdom about 1571; and | consisted of conferences among the clergy, for the better improving of themselves, and one another, in the knowledge of scripture and divinity; but in 1577 were generally suppressed, on account of their being thought seminaries of puritanism. In 1584 he was translated to the bishopric of Winchester; which diocese abounding greatly with papists, he petitioned the privy-council to suppress them; and among other methods proposed, “that an hundred or two of obstinate recusants, lusty men, well able to labour, might by some convenient commission be taken up, and be sent into Flanders as pioneers and labourers, whereby the country should be disburdened of a company of dangerous people, and the rest that remained be put in some fear.

This reverend and holy bishop, as Wood calls him, upon the discovery of William Parry’s treason, issued an order of prayer and thanksgiving for the preservation of the queen’s life and safety, to be used in the diocese of Winchester; and, Nov. 17, 1588, preached at St. Paul’s cross, that being a day of public thanksgiving, as well for the queen’s accession, as for the victory obtained over the Spanish armada. He died at Winchester in April 1594, and was buried in the cathedral there. Over his grave, which is on the south side of the choir, was soon after laid a flat marble, with a Latin inscription in prose and verse, which was probably defaced at the new paving of the choir.

The character of this bishop has been represented in an advantageous light by several writers. Bale styles him a very learned man: eloquent, and well acquainted with the English and Latin languages; and Godwin says, that he was a man of great gravity, learning, and holiness of life. “He was,” says Wood, “furnished with all kind of learning, almost beyond all his contemporaries and not only Adorned the pulpit with his sermons, but also the commonwealth of learning with his writings.” “Of him,” says sir John Harrington, “I can say much; and I should do him great wrong, if I should say nothing: for he was indeed a reverend man, very well learned, exceeding industrious; and, which was in those days counted a great praise to him, and a chief cause of his preferment, he wrote that great dictionary that yet bears his name. His life in Oxford was very commendable, and in some sort saint-like; for, if it is saint-like to live unreproveable, to bear a cross | patiently, to forgive great injuries freely, this man’s example is sampleless in this age .*


The only charge brought against him was that of covetousness, while bishop of Winchester; but this he fully refuted, by proving that, though his bishopric produced 2,700l. his clear profits amounted only to 398l. —Strype’s Annals, Appendix, vol. III. p. 58.

He married a wife at Oxford, by whom he had two daughters: but he was not happy with her, she proving unfaithful to his bed. “The whole university,” sir John Harrington tells us, “in reverence to the man, and indignity of the matter, offered to separate her from him by public authority, and so to set him free, being the innocent party: but he would by no means agree thereto, alleging he knew his own infirmity, that he might not live unmarried; and to divorce and marry again, he would not charge his conduct with so great a scandal.” The character of this woman makes us doubt the story that she burnt the notes which her husband had, for eight years, been collecting for his dictionary, lest he should kill himself with study. Such a proof of affection, however perplexing to a student, was not likely from such a wife as Mrs. Cooper.

His writings were: 1. “The epitome of Chronicles from the 17th year after Christ to 1540, and thence to 1560.” The two first parts of this chronicle, and the beginning of the third, as far as the 17th year after Christ, were composed by Thomas Lanquet, a young man of 24 years old: but he dying immaturely, Cooper finished the work, and published it under the title of “Cooper’s Chronicle,” though the running-title of the first and second partis “Lanquet’s Chronicle.A faulty edition of this work was published surreptitiously in 1559; but that of 1560, in 4to, was revised and corrected by Cooper. 2. “Thesaurus Linguae Romanae & Britannicse,” &c. and, “Dictionarium historicum & poeticum,1565, folio. This dictionary was so much esteemed by queen Elizabeth, that she endeavoured, as Wood tells us, to promote the author for it in the church as high as she could. It is an improvement of “Bibliotheca Eliotae,” Eliot’s library or dictionary, printed in 1541; or, as some think, it is taken out of Robert Stephens’s “Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, and” Frisii Lexicon Latino-Teutonicum.“3.A brief exposition of such chapters of the Old Testament as usually are read in the church at common prayer, on the Sundays throughout the year,“1573, 3to. 4.A sermon at Lincoln,“1575, 8vo. 5. | ”Twelve Sermons,“1580, 4to. 6.” An admonition to the people of England, wherein are answered not only the slanderous untruths reproachfully uttered by Martin the libeller, but also many other crimes by some of his brood, objected generally against all bishops and the chief of the clergy, purposely to deface and discredit the present state of the church,“1589, 4to, This was an answer to John ap Henry’s books against the established church, published under the name of Martin Mar-Prelate. Ap Henry, or his accomplices, replied to the bishop’s book, in two ludicrous pamphlets, entitled,” Ha' ye any work for a Cooper?“and” More work for a Cooper." 1


Biog. Brit Godwin. —Ath. Ox. vol. I. —Strype’s Parker, p. 316, 346, [453] 465. —Strype’s Whitgift, p. 132, 187, 288, 299. Harriogton’s Brief View, p. 61.