White, John

, a puritan divine, and, Wood says, usually called the Patriarch Of Dorchester, was born in the latter end of December, 1574, at Stanton St. John, in Oxfordshire. He was sent for education to Winchester school, and after two years of probation, was admitted perpetual fellow of New college, Oxford, in 1595. Here he | took his degrees in arts, was admitted into holy orders, and became a frequent preacher in, or near Oxford. In 1606 he became rector of Trinity church, Dorchester, in the county of Dorset, where in the course of his ministry he expounded the whole of the scripture, and went through about half of it a second time, having, says Wood, “an excellent faculty in the clear and solid interpreting of it.

About 1624, Mr. White, with some of his friends, projected the new colony of Massachusetts in New England, and, after surmounting many difficulties, succeeded in obtaining a patent. The object was to provide a settlement or asylum for those who could not conform to the church discipline and ceremonies. He himself appears to have been inclined to the same disaffection, and is said to have been in 1630 prosecuted by archbishop Laud in the high commission court for preaching against Arminianism and the ceremonies. But as no account exisjs of the issue of this trial, or of his having been at all a sufferer upon this account, it is more probable, or at least as probable, that Wood is right, who tells us that he conformed as well after, as before, the advancement of Laud. Afterwards indeed he was a sufferer during the rage of civil war; for a party of horse in the neighbourhood of Dorchester, under the command of prince Rupert, plundered his house, and carried away his library. On this occasion he made his escape to London, and was made minister of the Savoy. In 1640 he was appointed one of the learned divines to assist in a committee of religion, appointed by the House of Lords; and in 1643 was chosen one of the Westminster assembly of divines. In 1645 he was appointed to succeed the ejected Dr. Featley as rector of Lambeth, and the doctor’s library was committed to his care, until his own should be returned which was carried away by prince Rupert’s soldiers. In 1647 he was offered the wardenship of New college, but refused it, and as soon as he could, returned to his people at Dorchester, for whom he had the greatest affection, and where he had passed the happiest of his days, being a man of great zeal, activity, and learning, and, as Wood allows, a “most moderate puritan.” Fuller says, “he was a constant preacher, and by his wisdom and ministerial labours, Dorchester was much enriched with knowledge, piety, and industry.” He died there suddenly, July 21, 1648, in the seventy-second year of his age. His works are but few, 1. “A commentary upon the first three chapters of Genesis,| 1656, fol. 2. “A way to the tree of life, discovered in sundry directions for the profitable reading of the Scriptures,” &c. 1647, 8vo. 3. “A digression concerning the morality of the Fourth commandment,” printed with the preceding. He published also a few sermons. 1


Ath. Ox. vol. II, Fuller’s Worthies, Brook’s Lives of the Puritans.