Hildersham, Arthur

, a very eminent and learned puritan divine, was descended from the royal family of England. He was the son of Thomas Hildersham, a gentleman of an ancient family, by Anne Pole (or Poole), his second wife, daughter to sir JefTery Pole, fourth son of sir Richard Pole, cousin-german to Henry VII. This sir Richard Pole’s wife was Margaret countess of Salisbury, daughter to George duke of Clarence, second brother to king Edward IV. by Isabella, eldest daughter and co-heiress of Richard earl of Warwick and Salisbury. All this will appear from the pedigree of cardinal Pole (who was Mr. Hildersham’s great uncle), as given from* the Heralds office, by the cardinal’s biographer, Mr. Phillips, but we might perhaps have passed it over, unless for a remarkable coincidence of descent which we shall soon have to notice in our account of bishop Hildesley.

Mr. Hildersham was born at Stechworth in Cambridgeshire, Oct. 6, 1563, and educated at Christ’s college, Cambridge. His parents were zealous papists, but during his abode at the university, he embraced the doctrines of the reformed church with a cordiality and decision which nothing could shake, and when his father found him so resolute, he disinherited him. He soon, however, obtained a liberal patron in his relation Henry earl of Huntingdon, lord president of the north, who sent him to the university, which he had been obliged to leave, and generously supported him. Being disappointed of a fellowship of Christ’s college, owing to the partiality of Dr. Barwell, the master, for another candidate, he was nearly about the same time, in 1586, chosen fellow of Trinity-hall, by the influence of lord Burleigh, chancellor of the university. This fellowship, however, he did not hold above two years, and having unguardedly began to preach without being admitted | into orders, he received a check from archbishop Whitgift, although this irregularity was not in those days very uncommon. In 1593, however, every obstacle of this kind being removed, the earl of Huntingdon presented him to the living of Ashby-de-la Zoncb in Leicestershire, where he remained the whole of his life. Being dissatisfied with some points of ecclesiastical discipline, snch as wearing the surplice, baptizing with the cross, and kneeling at the sacrament, he often incurred the penalties of the law, and more than once was suspended from his functions; but always restored by the intervention of some friend, or the prevalence of his own excellent character. The wonder is that a man of his learning, piety, and good sense, should have adhered with such pertinacity to matters of comparatively little consequence, when he found the law and the general sentiments of his brethren against him, and when, what was of more importance to him, those labours were interrupted in which he delighted, and in which he was eminently successful. With these interruptions, however, he continued in the exercise of his ministry at Ashby until his death, March 4, 1631. He was interred in the southside of the chancel of Ashby church, with an inscription which, after adverting to his noble descent, says that he was “more honoured for his sweet ’and ingenuous disposition, his singular wisdom in settling peace, advising in secular affairs, and satisfying doubts; his abundant charity, and especially his extraordinary knowledge and judgment in the Holy Scriptures, his painful and zealous preaching, &c.” This character is amply illustrated by his biographers, and may in part be confirmed by his works, which in point of style and matter are equal, if not superior to those of his contemporaries* Those which are best known are his “Lectures on John iv.1623, fol. and his “CLII Lectures on Psalm 51,” 1635, fol. In all these his steady adherence to the doctrines of the church is visible, and his aversion to sectarianism and popery. He was particularly an opponent of the Brownists, or first independents. Echardjusily says he was “a great and shining light of the puritan party, and celebrated for his singular learning and piety.” Ke was the author also of “Lectures on Psalm 34,1632, 4to; and “A Treatise on the Lord’s Supper,” which we have never seen. He left in ms. a paraphrase on the whole Bible, from which was extracted a paraphrase on the Song of Solomon, | printed, 1672, in 12mo. His son, Samuel, was ejected, for nonconformity, from the living of West Felton in Shropshire, and died in 1674. He was editor of his father’s Lectures. 1

1 Clark’s Lives, bound up with his Martyrology. —Neal’s Puritans. Nichols’s Leicestershire.