Davenport, Christopher

, a learned Englishman, was born at Coventry, in Warwickshire, about 1598, and educated in grammar-learning at a school in that city. He was sent to Merton-college in Oxford at fifteen years of age; where, spending two years, he, upon an invitation from some Romish priest, afterwards went to Doway. He remained there for some time; and then going to Ypres, he entered into the order of Franciscans among the Dutch there, in 1617. After several removals from place to place, he became a missionary into England, where he went by the name of Franciscus a Sancta Clara; and at length was made one of the chaplains to Henrietta Maria, the royal consort of Charles I. Here he exerted himself to promote the cause of popery, by gaining disciples, raising money among the English catholics to carry on public matters abroad, and by writing books for the advancement of his religion and order. He was very eminent for his uncommon learning, being excellently versed in school-divinity, in fathers and councils, in philosophers, and in ecclesiastical and profane histories. He was, Wood | tells us, a person of very free discourse, while his fellowlabourer in the same vineyard, Hugh Cressey, was reserved; of a lively and quick aspect, while Cressey was clouded and melancholy: all which accomplishments made him agreeable to protestants as well as papists. Archbishop Laud, it seems, had some knowledge of this person; for, in the seventh article of his impeachment, it is said, that “the said archbishop, for the advancement of popery and superstition within this realm, hath wittingly and willingly received, harboured, and relieved divers popish priests and Jesuits, namely, one called Sancta Clara, alias Davenport, a dangerous person and Franciscan friar, who hath written a popish and seditious book, entitled, ‘ Dens, Natura, Gratia,’ &c. wherein the thirtynine articles of the church of England, established by act of parliament, are much traduced and scandalized: that the said archbishop had divers conferences with him, while he was writing the said book,” &c. To which article, the archbishop made this answer: “I never saw that Franciscan friar, Sancta Clara, in my life, to the utmost of my memory, above four times or five at most. He was first brought to me by Dr. Lindsell: but 1 did fear, that he would never expound the articles so, that the church of England might have cause to thank him for it. He never came to me after, till he was almost ready to print another book, to prove that episcopacy was authorised in the church by divine right; and this was after these unhappy stirs began. His desire was, to have this book printed here; but at his several addresses to me for this, I still gave him this answer: That I did not like the way which the church of Rome went concerning episcopacy; that I would never consent, that any such book from the pen of a Romanist should be printed here; that the bishops of England are very well able to defend their own cause and calling, without any help from Rome, and would do so when they saw cause: and this is all the conference I ever had with him.” Davenport at this time absconded, and spent most of those years of trouble in obscurity, sometimes beyond the seas, sometimes at London, sometimes in the country, and sometimes at Oxford. After the restoration of Charles II. when the marriage was celebrated between him and Catherine of Portugal, Sancta Clara became one of her chaplains; and was for the third time chosen provincial of his order for England, where he died May 31, 1680, and was | buried in the church-yard belonging to the Savoy. It was his desire, many years before his death, to retire to Oxford to die, purposely that his bones might be laid in St. Ebb’s churcb, to which the mansion of the Franciscans or grey-friars sometime joined, and in which several of the brethren were anciently interred, particularly those of his old friend John Day, a learned friar of his order, who was there buried in 165;s. He was the author of several works: 1. “Paraphrastiea expositio articulorum confessionis Anglicae:” this book was, w r e know not why, much censured by the Jesuits, who would fain have had it burnt; but beino-soon after licensed at Rome, all farther rumour about it stopped. 2. “Deus, Natura, Gratia sive, tractatus de praedestinatione, de mentis,” &c. this book was dedicated to Charles I. and Prynne contends, that the whole scope of it, as well as the paraphrastical exposition of the articles, reprinted at the end of it in 1635, was to reconcile the king, the church, and the articles of our religion, to the church of Rome. He published also a great number of other works, which are not now of consequence enough to be mentioned. 1

1 Ath. Ox. vol. II. Dodd’s Ch. Hist. —Moreri.--—Foppen Bibl. Belg.-—Niceron, vol. XXIII.-Anth. Wood’s Life.