Crowley, Robert

, a divine and poet, was born either in Gloucestershire, or, according to Bale, in Northamptonshire, and entered a student of Magdalen college, Oxford, about the year 1534; and after taking the degree of B. A. was elected probationer fellow in 1542. In the beginning of the reign of Edward VI. he settled in London, took a house in Ely-rents, Holborn, and there exercised the trade of printer and bookseller, and being, we suppose, in orders, occasionally preached but being at the same time a zealous friend to the reformation, on the accession of queen Mary he went with the other exiles to Francfort, where he remained until the queen’s death. After his return to England he had several benefices bestowed on him, among which were the archdeaconry, and a prebend in Hereford, both which he resigned in 1567; a prebend of St. Paul’s, the rectory of St. Peter le Poor, and the vicarage of St. Giles’s Cripplegate; but he was deprived of the latter, the only promotion which he appears to have held at that time (1566), for a riot in the church, because the choristers wore surplices. In 1576, however, it appears that he was collated to the living of St. Lawrence Jewry, and probably was now more reconciled to the ceremonies and habits of the church. In 1578 he was presented with the freedom of the Stationers’ company, and soon after is found with the wardens, licensing copies. He died June 18, 1588, and was buried in his former church of St. Giles’s. He was, according to Tanner, a person of a happy genius, an eminent preacher, and a zealous advocate for reformation. His works, both in prose and verse, enumerated by Wood and Tanner, are now merely objects of curiosity. In 1550 he printed the first edition of “Pierce Plowman’s Vision,” with the view of helping forward the reformation by the revival of a book which exposed the absurdities of popery. He translated into popular rhyme, not only the Psalter, but the Litany, with hymns, all which he printed together in 1549. In the same year, and in the same measure, he published “The Voice of the Last Trumpet blown by the seventh angel,” a piece containing twelve several lessons for the instruction of all classes. He also attacked the abuses of his age in thirty-one “Epigrams,1550, and twice reprinted. In the same year he published a kind of metrical sermon on “Pleasure and Pain, Heaven and Hell Remember these four, and all shall be well.” In his “Dialogue between | Lent and Liberty,” written to prove that Lent is a superstitious institution, Mr. Warton thinks that the personification of Lent is a bold and a perfectly new prosopopeia. Crowley likewise wrote and printed in 1588, a rhyming manual, “The School of Virtue and Book of Good Nature,” a translation, into metre, of many of the less exceptionable Latin hymns anciently used by the catholics. Among his prose works are “An Apology of those English preachers and writers which Cerberus, the three-headed dog of hell, chargeth with false doctrine under the name of Predestination,1566, 4to, and “Brief Discourse concerning those four usual notes whereby Christ’s Catholic Church is known,1581, 4 to, &c. In controversy he was usually warm, and not nice in his language; and in his poetry he consulted usefulness rather than taste. 1


Ath. Ox. vol. I.—Tanner and Bale.—Strype’s Life of Parker, p. 218.— Warton’s Hist. of Poetry.