Cox, Richard

, a learned English bishop, was born at Whaddon in Buckinghamshire, of mean parentage, in the year 1499. He had probably his first education in the small priory of Snelshall, in the parish of Whaddon; but being afterwards sent to Eton-school, he was elected into a scholarship at King’s college in Cambridge, of which he became fellow in the year 1519. Having the same year taken his bachelor of arts degree, and being eminent for his piety and learning, he was invited to Oxford by cardinal Wolsey, to fill up his new foundation. He was accordingly preferred to be one of the junior canons of Cardinal college; and on the 7th of December, 1525, was incorporated bachelor of arts at Oxford, as he stood at Cambridge. Soon after, having performed his exercises, he took the degree of M. A. July 2, 1526, and at this time was reputed one of the greatest scholars of his age; and even his poetical compositions were in great esteem. His piety and virtue were not inferior to his learning, and commanded the respect of all impartial persons. But shewing himself averse to many of the popish superstitions, and declaring freely for some of Luther’s opinions, he incurred the displeasure of his superiors, who stripped him of his preferment, and threw him into prison on suspicion of heresy. When he was released from his confinement, he left Oxford; and, some time after, was chosen master of Eton-school, which flourished under his care. In 1537, he commenced doctor in divinity at Cambridge, and December 4, 1540, was made archdeacon of Ely; as he was also appointed in 1541, the first prebendary in the first stall of the same cathedral, upon its being new founded by king Henry VIII. September 10, 1541. He was likewise, June 3, 1542, presented by the same king to the prebend of Sutton with Buckingham in the church of Lincoln, and installed the llth of that month, but this he surrendered up in 1547. In the year 1543, he supplicated the | university of Oxford, that he might take place among the doctors of divinity there, which was unusual, because he was not then incorporated in that degree, but this took place in June 1545. When a design was formed, of converting the collegiate church of Southwell into a bishopric, Dr. Cox was nominated bishop of it. On the 8th of January, 1543-4, he was made the second dean of the new-erected cathedral of Osney near Oxford; and in 1546, when that see was translated to Christ church, he was also made dean there. These promotions he obtained by the interest of archbishop Cranmer and bishop Goodrich, to the last of whom he had been chaplain; and, by their recommendation, he was chosen tutor to the young prince Edward, whom he instructed with great care in the true principles of religion, and formed his tender mind to an early sense of his duty, both as a Christian and a king. On that prince’s accession to the throne, he became a great favourite at court, and was made a privy-counsellor, and the king’s almoner. The 2 1st of May, 1547, he was elected chancellor of the university of Oxford; installed July 16, 1548, canon of Windsor; and the next year made dean of Westminster. About the same time he was appointed one of the commissioners to visit the university of Oxford, in which he and his brother commissioners destroyed some of the most valuable treasures in the libraries, from a notion that they encouraged popery and conjuration *. In 1550, he was ordered to go down into Sussex, and endeavour by his learned and affecting sermons, to quiet the minds of the people, who had been disturbed by the factious preaching of Day bishop of Chichester, a violent papist: and when the noble design of reforming the canon law*


Importantly as the reformation contributed to the interests of literature, it is impossible to withhold the deepest regret from the shocking havoc made at this time in the public libraries. Nor was this a matter reserved to be felt in the present age, when we suffer so much from the want of the valuable helps to history, &c. with which these repositories abounded. The evil was deplored at the time it took place, not only by the popish party, but by some of the most zealous among the reformed. See in particular, bishop Bale, in the preface to his “Declarations on —Leland’s journey and search for England’s Antiquities.” Life of —Leland, 1772, 8vo. He mentions, of his own knowledge, a merchant who bought the contents of two libraries for forty shillings, and used them for ten years as waste-paper. Cox, we lament to say, countenanced these enormities, although Wood, in his History of the University, allows that he took other measures which were highly beneficial to the interests of the church and universities.

was in agitation, he was appointed one of the commissioners. Both in this and the former reign, when an act passed for giving all chantries, | colleges, &c. to the king, through Dr. Cox’s powerful intercession, the colleges in both universities were excepted out of that act. In November 1552, be resigned the office of chancellor of Oxford and soon after queen Mary’s accession to the crown, he was stripped of his preferments and on the 15th of August, 1553, committed to the Marshalsea. He was indeed soon discharged from this confinement; but foreseeing the inhuman persecution likely to ensue, he resolved to quit the realm, and withdraw to some place where he might enjoy the free exercise of his religion, according to the form established in the reign of king Edward. With this view he went first to Strasburgh in Germany, where he heard with great concern of some English exiles at Francfort having thrown aside the English Liturgy, and set up a form of their own, framed after the French and Geneva models. On the 13th of March 1555, he came to Francfort in order to oppose this innovation, and to have the Common- Prayer-Book settled among the English congregation there, which he had the satisfaction to accomplish. Then he returned to Strasburgh for the sake of conversing with Peter Martyr, with whom he had contracted an intimate friendship at Oxford, and whom he loved and honoured for his great learning and moderation. After the death of queen Mary he returned to England; and was one of those divines who were appointed to revise the Liturgy. When a disputation was to be held at Westminster between eight papists and eight of the reformed clergy, he was the chief champion on the protestants’ side. He preached often before queen Elizabeth in Lent; and, in his sermon at the opening of her first parliament, exhorted them in most affecting terms to restore religion to its primitive purity, and banish all the popish innovations and corruptions. These excellent discourses, and the great zeal he had shewn in support of the English liturgy at Francfort, so effectually recommended him to the queen’s esteem, that in June 1559, she nominated him to the bishopric of Norwich; but altering her mind, preferred him to the see of Ely in July 1559, in the room of Dr. Thirlby, who was deprived. Before his consecration (Dec. 19) he joined with Dr. Parker, elect archbishop of Canterbury, and the bishops elect of London, Chichester, and Hereford, in a petition to the queen, against an act lately passed for the alienating and exchanging the lands and revenues of the bishops; and sent | her several arguments from scripture and reason against the lawfulness of it; observing withal, the many evils and inconveniencies both to church and state that would thence arise. In 1559 we find him again appointed one of the visitors of the university of Oxford, but this visitation was conducted so moderately as to obtain a letter of thanks to queen Elizabeth for the services of the commissioners. He enjoyed the episcopal dignity about twenty-one years and seven months, and was justly considered one of the chief pillars and ornaments of the church of England, having powerfully co-operated with archbishop Parker, and his successor Grindal, in restoring our church in the same beauty and good order it had enjoyed in king Edward’s reign. He indeed gave some offence to the queen by his zealous opposition to her retaining the crucifix and lights on the altar of the Chapel Royal, and his strenuous defence of the lawfulness of the marriage of the clergy, to which the queen was always an enemy. He was a liberal patron to all learned men whom he found well affected to the church; and shewed a singular esteem for Dr. Whitgift, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury, made him his chaplain, and gave him the rectory of Teversham in Cambridgeshire, and a prebend of Ely. He did his utmost to get a body of ecclesiastical laws *

This was the book entitled “Reformatio Leguin Ecclesiasticarum,” compiled by order of king Henry VIII. and Edward VI. out of the canon and civil law. Thirty-two persons were commissiened for that work, but archbishop Cranmer was the principal, and it was translated into elegant Latin by sir John Cheke, and Dr. Haddon, regius professor of the civil law in the university of Cambridge. It was first published in 1571, and again in 1640, 4to.

established by authority of parliament; but through the opposition of some of the chief courtiers, this design miscarried a third time. As he had, in his exile at Francfort, been the chief champion against the innovations of the puritans, he still continued, with some vigour and resolution, to oppose their attempts against the discipline and ceremonies of the established church. At first he tried to reclaim them by gentle means; but finding that they grew more audacious, and reviled both church and bishops in scurrilous libels, he wrote to archbishop Parker, to go on vigorously in reclaiming or punishing them, and not be disheartened at the frowns of those court-favourites who protected them; assuring him that he might expect the blessing of God on his pious labours to free the church from their dangerous | attempts, and to establish uniformity. When the privycouncil interposed in favour of the puritans, and endeavoured to screen them from punishment, he wrote a bold letter to the lord- treasurer Burieigh in which he warmly expostulated with the council for meddling with the affairs of the church, which, as he said, ought to be left to the determination of the bishops; admonished them to keep within their own sphere; and told them he would appeal to the queen if they continued to interpose in matters not belonging to them. He is blamed by some for giving up several manors and other estates belonging to his see, while others thought he deserved commendation for his firmness in resolving to part with no more, and for being proof against the strongest solicitations and most violent attacks which he had to encounter, even from those who were most in favour at court, and who were backed by royal command and authority. In the years 1574- and 1575, sir Christopher Hatton, a noted favourite of the queen, endeavoured to wrest Ely-house in Holborn from him; and in order to preserve it to his see he was forced to have a long and chargeable suit in chancery, which was not determined in 1579. The lord North also attempted, in 1575, to oblige him to part with the manor of Somersham, in Huntingdonshire, one of the best belonging to his bishopric; and with Downham park; which he refusing to yield, that lord endeavoured to irritate the queen against him, and to have him deprived. For that purpose, North, and some others of the courtiers, examined and ransacked his whole conduct since his first coming to his see, and drew tip a large body of articles against him addressed to the privy-council. But the bishop, in his replies, so fully vindicated himself, that the queen was forced to acknowledge his innocence, though the lord North boasted he had found five prsemunires against him. Vexed, however, with the implacable malice of the lord North, and other his adversaries, he desired, in 1577, leave to resign his bishopric, which the queen refused. North, though disappointed in his former attempt, yet not discouraged, brought three actions against the poor old bishop for selling of wood, on which the bishop offered again, in 1579, to resign, provided he had a yearly pension of two hundred pounds out of his see, and Donnington (the least of five country houses belonging to Ely bishopric) for his residence during life. The lord- treasurer Burieigh, at the bishop’s earnest desire, | obtained leave of the queen for him to resign; and in February 1579-80, upon the bishop’s repeated desires, forms of resignation were actually drawn up. But the court could not find any divine of note who would take that bishopric on their terms, of surrendering* up the best manors belonging to it. The first offer of it was made to Freak, bisbop of Norwich; and, on his refusal, it was proffered to several others; but the conditions still appeared so ignominious that they all rejected it; by which means bishop Cox enjoyed it till his death, which happened on the 22d of July 1581, in the eighty-second year of his arge. By his will he left several legacies, amounting in all to the sum of 945l.; and died worth, in good debts, 2,322l. He had several children. His body was interred in Ely cathedral, near bishop Goodrich’s monument, under a marble stone, with an inscription, now nearly effaced. His character is said to have been that of a man of a sound judgment and clear apprehension, and skilled in all polite and useful learning. He wanted no advantages of education, and improved them with such diligence and industry, that he soon became an excellent proficient both in divine and human literature. The holy scriptures were his chief study; and he was perfectly well versed in the original language of the New Testament. He was extremely zealous for the true interest of the reformed church, and a constant and vigorous defender of it against alj, the open, assaults of all its enemies. He is accused by some of having been a worldly and covetou’s person; and is said to have made a great havock and spoil of his woods and parks, feeding his family with powdered venison to save expences. Several complaints and long accusations were exhibited against him and his wife, in 1579, to queen Elizabeth upon these accounts, but the bishop fully vindicated himself, and shewed that all these complaints were malicious calumnies. It is likewise said, that he appears to have been of a vindictive spirit, by reason of his prosecution of, and severity to, the deprived catholics in his custody; and especially by his complaints against Dr. Feckenham, the last abbot of Westminster. But the bishop alleges in his own excuse, that these complaints were well founded; and that his endeavours to convert him were by order of the court. It must be remembered of this bishop, that he was the first who brought a wife to live in a college; and that he procured a new body of statutes for St, John’s | college in Cambridge, of which, as bishop of Ely, he was, visitor.

His works, chiefly published after his decease, are, 1. “An Oration at the beginning of the Disputation of Dr. Tresham and others with Peter Martyr.” 2. “An Oration at the conclusion of the same;” both in Latin, and printed in 1549, 4to, and afterwards among Peter Martyr’s works. The second is also printed in the Appendix to Strype’s Life, of Cranmer. 3. He had a great hand in compiling the first Liturgy of the Church of England: and was one of the chief persons employed in the review of it in 1559. 4. He turned into verse the Lord’s Prayer, commonly printed at the end of Sternhold and Hopkins’s Psalms, a composition which will not bear modern criticism. 5. When a new Translation of the Bible was made in the reign of queen Elizabeth, now commonly known by the name of the Bishop’s Bible, the Four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Epistle to the Romans, were allotted to him, for his portion. 6. He wrote, “Resolutions of some Questions concerning the Sacraments;” in the collection of records at the end of Dr. Burnet’s History of the Reformation. 7. He had a hand in the “Declaration concerning the functions and divine institution of Bishops and Priests,” and in the “Answers to the Queries concerning some abuses of the Mass.” 8. Several letters, and small pieces of his have been published by the industrious Strype, in his Annals of the Reformation, and Lives of the four Archbishops; and he is said to have had a hand in Lilly’s Grammar. A letter written by him in 1569, directed to the Parson of Downham, and found in the parish chest of that place, was some years ago published in the Gentleman’s Magazine. It relates chiefly to the state and condition of the poor, before the statutes of the 14th and 43d of queen Elizabeth were enacted and shews that the bishop was animated with a very laudable zeal for engaging persons of wealth and substance to contribute liberally, chearfully, and charitably, to their indigent neighbours. 1


Biog. Brit. —Strype’s Annals; see Index. Strypo’s Cranmer, p. 3, 77, 134, 178, 200, 201, 214. Appendix, p. 1 19. —Strype’s Parker, p. 63, 72, 79, 82, 97, 99, 106, 108, 135, 209, 216, 228, 348, 379, 389, 426 [452] 473. —Strype’s G’rindal, p. 6.3, and VVhitgift, 72, 92. An account of a drawing of his Funeral, Peck’s Desiderata, vol. II. Ath. Or. vol. I. —Gent. Mag. vol. LVI. p. 1041.