Fowler, Edward

, a learned English prelate, was born in 1632, at Westerleigh, in Gloucestershire; of which place his father was minister, but ejected for noncon formitjr after the restoration. He was sent to the College-school in Gloucester, where he was educated under William Russel, who had married his sister. In the beginning of 1650 he became clerk of Corpus Christi college, Oxford, and being looked upon, says Wood, “as a young man well endowed with the spirit, and gifted with extemporary prayer, he was admitted one of the chaplains thereof in 1653, and the same year took a bachelor of arts degree.” Afterwards removing to Cambridge, he took his master’s degree as a member of Trinity college, and returning to Oxford, was incorporated in the same degree July 5, 1656., About the same time he became chaplain to Arabella, countess dowager of Kent, who presented him to the rectory of Northill, in Bedfordshire. Having been educated a presbyterian, he scrupled about conformity at the restoration, but conformed afterwards, and became a great ornament to the church. His excellent moral writings renderedhim so considerable, that archbishop Sheldon, in order to introduce him into the metropolis, collated him in August 1673, to the rectory of All-hallows, Breadtreet. In February 1675-6, he was made prebendary of Gloucester; and in March IbSl, vicar of St. Giles’s, Cripplegate, on which he resigned the living of Allhallows. The same year, he accumulated the degrees of bachelor and doctor of divinity. During the struggle between protestantism and popery in this kingdom, he appeared to great advantage in defence of the former; but this rendered him obnoxious to the court, and in all probability tvas the secret cause of a prosecution against him, in 1685, by some uf his parishioners, who alledged that he was guilty of Whiggism, that he admitted to the communion excommunicated persons before they were absolved, &c. We are told this matter was carried so far, that, after a trial at Doctors’-couimons, he was suspended, under the | pretence of having acted in several respects contrary to the canons of the church. This affront, however, did not intimidate him from doing what he thought his duty; for he was the second, who in 1688, sighed the resolution of the London clergy, not to read king James’s new declaration for liberty of conscience. He was rewarded for this and other services at the revolution; for in 1691, he was preferred to the see of Gloucester, and continued there till his death, which happened at Chelsea, Aug. 26, 1714, in his eighty-second year. His widow survived him some years, dying April 2, 1732. She was his second wife, the widow of the rev. Dr. Ezekiel Burton, and daughter of Ralph Trevor, of London, merchant. His first wife, by whom he had a large family, was daughter of Arthur Barnardiston, one of the masters in chancery. She died Dec. 19, 1696, and was buried, as well as the bishop, in Hendon church-yard, Middlesex, in the chancel of which church is a monument to his memory.

He was the author of many excellent works, as, 1. “The Principles and Practices of certain moderate divines of the Church of England, abusively called Latitudinarians, greatly misunderstood, truly represented and defended,1670, 8vo. This is written in the way of dialogue. 2. “The Design of Christianity or, a plain demonstration and improvement of this proposition, viz. that the enduing men with inward real righteousness and true holiness, was the ultimate end of our Saviour’s coming into the world, and is the great intendment of his blessed Gospel,1671, 8vo. John Bunyan, the author of the Pilgrim’s Progress, having attacked this book, the author vindicated it in a pamphlet with a very coarse title; 3. “Dirt wiped out; or, a manifest discovery of the gross ignorance, erroneousness, and most unchristian and wicked spirit of one John Bunyan, Lay-preacher in Bedford, c.1672, 4to. 4. “Libertas Evangelica; or, a Discourse of Christian Liberty. Being a further pursuance of The Design of Christianity,1630, 8vo. 5. Some pieces against popery; as, “The Resolution of this case of conscience, whether the Church of England’s symbolizing, so far as it doth with the Church of Rome, makes it lawful to hold communion with the Church of Rome?1683, 4to. “A Defence of the Resolution, &c.1684, 4to. “Examination of Cardinal Bellarmine’s fourth note of the Church, viz. Amplitude, or Multitude and Variety of Believers.” “The texts | which Papists cite out of the Bible, for the proof of their doctrine concerning the obscurity of the Holy Scriptures, examined,” 1687, 4to. The two last are printed in “The Preservative against Popery,” folio. He published, also, 6. Two pieces on the doctrine of the Trinity, “Certain Propositions, by which the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is so explained, according to the ancient fathers, as to speak it not contradictory to natural reason. Together with a defence of them, &c.1694, 4to. “A Second Defence of the Propositions, &c.1695, 4to. 7. Eighteen Occasional Sermons; one of which was on “The great wickedness and mischievous effects of Slandering, preached in the parish church of St. Giles’s, Nov. 15, 1685, on Psalm ci. 5, with a large preface of the author, and conclusion in his own vindication,1685, 4to. 8. “An Answer to the Paper delivered by Mr. Ashton at his execution,1690, 4to. 9. “A Discourse on the great disingenuity and unreasonableness of repining at afflicting Providences, and of the influence which they ought to have upon us, published upon occasion of the death of queen Maw; with a preface containing some observations touching her excellent endowments and exemplary life,1695, 8vo.

In the registers of St. Giles’s, Cripplegate, which Mr. Malcolm appears to have examined with care, we find no mention made of any litigious proceedings of the parishioners against Dr. Fowler; but on the contrary, there arc the following entries, which show how much he was respected by them after the revolution: “Feb. 7, 1700. Ordered, that in consideration the bishop of Gloucester has a long time, at his own charge, provided a lecturer in this parish, and been otherwise kind and bountiful to the same, that the chancel of this parish church be forthwith put in good repair at the charge of the parish.” In 1708 he represented to the vestry that he was grown so extremely infirm and old, he could no longer preach in a morning; and having a large family, with but small profits from the vicarage, together with having provided a lecturer for twenty-five years past at his own charge, he now entreated them to elect one themselves, which they did, with many acknowledgments for his lordship’s fatherly conduct towards them. 1


Biog. Brit.—Malcolm’s Londinium Redivivum, vol. III.—Burnet’s Own Times.—Birch’s Life of Tillotson.—Ath. Ox. vol. II.—Gent. Map. vol. II. 1002, for a curious anecdote of our bishop, who was a believer in ghosts.