Tozer, Henry

, a learned divine who deserves to be recorded as a rare specimen of a doctrinal puritan, who retained his loyalty to the king and attachment to the church with equal firmness, was born at North-Tawton in Devonshire, in 1602. He was educated at Exeter- college, Oxford, where he took his degrees, and was chosen fellow in 1623. Having afterwards taken orders, he was, according to Wood, useful in moderating, reading to novices, and lecturing in the chapel. He was alsp an able and laborious preacher, had much, Wood says, of the -primitive religion in his sermons, and “seemed to be a most precise puritan in his looks and life, on which account his sermons and expositions in the churches of St. Giles’s and St. Martin at Oxford, were much frequented by the | puritanical party.” He appears however to have been decidedly averse to the proceedings of those who were intent on overturning the establishment of the church; and although, in 1643, he was, from his general character, nominated one of the assembly of divines, he declined attending them, and preferred remaining at Oxford, where he preached at Christ Church before the king, and at St. Mary’s before the parliament. In both instances he was so much approved that he was appointed by the chancellor of the university, in 1646, to take his doctor’s degree, but this he declined. Adhering to his loyalty, and to the use of the Common Prayer, after it had been abolished, he was soon denounced by the usurping party. Dr. Hakewell, the rector, having left the college, the government devolved on Mr. Tozer, as sub-rector, who manfully opposed the illegality of the parliamentary visitation, and maintained the rights and privileges of the college, although the university was at that time in complete possession of the parliamentary forces, and every man was to be expelled who did not obey their orders as given from the mouth of the visitors. In March 1647-8, he was cited before these visitors, who kept their judgment-hall in Merton-college, and was accused of “continuing the Common Prayer in the college, after the ordinance for the Directory (the new form) came in force: also of having sent for and admonished one of the house, for refusing to attend the chapel-prayers on that account.” It was among his crimes, likewise, that he had constantly shown the utmost dislike to the parliamentary faction, and always countenanced and patronized the loyalists of his college. And although the visitors had thought proper to put off the term, yet as Dr. Fell, the vice-chancellor, had proceeded to open it at the usual time in the university, without any regard to the visitors’ pleasure, Mr. Tozer did the same in Exeter college. In answer to all this, Mr. Tozer did what at the close of the same century conferred immortal honour on the fellows of Magdalen college, he disowned their authority; and told them, that “the things about which he was questioned, concerned the discipline of the college; and that he had some time before answered in the name of the whole college, that they could not, withr out perjury, submit to any other visitors than those to whom their statutes directed them,” meaning the bishop of Exeter, a title sufficiently obnoxious. | This answer being, as may be expected, unsatisfactory to the visitors, they ordered him to be ejected, aad committed the execution of the sentence to the soldiers of the garrison. Mr. Tozer however contrived to keep possession of the college for some time; in consequence of which, in June 1648, the visitors again sent for him, and with equal contempt for the statutes of the house, peremptorily forbade him to proceed to an election the day following; and as it is probable he refused to comply, they expelled him both from the college and the university. But he was not to be terrified from what he thought his duty even by this sentence, and refused to deliver up the keys of the college, there being no rector to whom he could legally give them, and then they imprisoned him. Even when he was, in the same month, preaching at St. Martin’s church, he was dragged out of it by the soldiers, and forbidden to officiate there any more, because he seduced the people. By what means the visitors were afterwards induced to show any degree of lenity to Mr. Tozer, we are not told; but it is certain that after all their harsh treatment of him, and his spirited opposition to their authority, he was allowed to remain in his rooms in the college, and they even gave him the profits of a travelling fellowship for three years. On the strength of this, he went to Holland, and became minister to the English merchants at Rotterdam, where he died Sept. 11, 1650, in the forty-eighth year of his age, and was interred in the English church in that place. Mr. Tozer published a few occasional sermons; “Directions for a godly life, especially for communicating at the Lord’s Tahle,1628, 8vo. of which a tenth edition appeared in 1680; and “Dicta et facta Christi ex quatuor evangelistis collecta,1634, 8vo. 1


Ath. Ox. vol. II. Wood’s Annals. Prince’s Worthies of Devon. Walker’s Sufferings.