Harsnet, Samuel

, a learned English prelate, successively bishop of Chichester and Norwich, and archbishop of York, the son of William Harsnet, a baker at Colchester, was born in that town, and baptised June 20, 1561. He was probably sent to the free-school of Colchester, but was admitted Sept. 8, 1576, of King’s college, Cambridge, whence he removed to Pembroke-hall, of which he became a scholar, and was elected fellow Nov. 27, 1583. He took his degree of B.A. in 1580, and that of M. A. in 15'84. Three years after, in March 1586-7, he was elected master of the free-school in Colchester, but, preferring the prosecution of his studies at Cambridge, he resigned this office in November 1588, and returned to Pembrdke-hall, where he studied divinity, in which indeed he had made great progress before, and had been admitted into holy orders, as appears by a sermon preached by him at St. Paul’s cross, Oct. 27, 1584, on the subject of predestination. In 1592 he served the office of proctor, and five years after became chaplain to Dr. Bancroft, bishop of London, by whose favour he obtained the rectory of St. Margaret Fish-street, London, which he resigned in 1604; and the vicarage of Chigwell in Essex, which he resigned in 1605, but continued to reside at Chigwell, where he had purchased a house and estate, now the property and residence of his descendant Mrs. Fisher. In 1598 he was collated to the prebend of Mapesbury in St. Paul’s, and Jan. 1602 to the archdeaconry of Essex, all in bishop Bancroft’s disposal. In April 1604, sir Thomas Lucas of Colchester presented him to the rectory of Shenfield in that county. The year following, upon the resignation of bishop Andrews, he was chosen master of Pembroke-hall, which he held until 1616, when he resigned in consequence of the society having exhibited to the king an accusation branching into fifty-seven articles. Many of these, Le Neve says, were scandalous, and the proof evident; but, as Le Neve was iiot able to procure a sight of tHem, we are not enabled to judge. They do not, however, appear to have injured his interest at court. He had been consecrated bishop of Chichester in 1609, and was now, in 1619, three years after he quitted Pembroke-hall, translated to Norwich, on the death of Dr. Overall. In 1624 we find him again accused in the house of commons of “putting down preaching setting up images praying to the east;” and other articles which appear to have involved him with the | puritans of his diocese, but which he answered to the satisfaction of the parliament as well as of the court. On the death of Dr. Montague, he was translated to the archbishopric of York in 1628, and in Nov. 1629, was sworn of the privy council. These dignities, however, he did not enjoy long, dying atMorton-on-the-marsh, Gloucestershire, while on a journey, May 25, 1631. He was buried at Chigwell church, agreeably to his own desire, where his effigies is still to be seen fixed on the north side of the chancel, against the wall. He left several charitable legacies and a year or two before his death founded and endowed a free school at Chigwell, and some alms-houses the history of his school may be seen in Lysons’s “Environs.” He bequeathed his library to the corporation of Colchester for the use of the clergy. Besides the sermon above noticed, the only other occasion on which Dr. Harsnet appeared as a writer, was in writing some pamphlets to expose the impostures of one John Darrell, who pretended to have the power of casting out devils. Bishop Harsnet’s character, from what we have related, appears to be equivocal it is said he was equally an enemy to puritanism and to popery and, according to Fuller, was the first who used the expression conformable puritans, i. e. those who conformed out of policy, and yet dissented in their judgments. 1


Biog. Brit. Le Neve’s Lives of the Archbishops. Fuller’s Ch, Hist, book XI. —Strype’s Whitgift, p. 473, 494. Lysons’s Environs.