Anderton, James (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 01
Anderton, James

by Thompson Cooper
The ODNB makes Anderton son of a Christopher Anderton.

ANDERTON, JAMES (fl. 1624), was a catholic controversialist, who, in the first quarter of the seventeenth century, published several learned works under the name of ‘John Brereley, Priest.’ Of his personal history hardly anything is known, and the statements concerning him are very conflicting. The Rev. Charles Dodd, in his ‘Church History of England, chiefly with regard to Catholicks,’ published between the years 1737 and 1742, asserts that ‘John Brereley’ is ‘either a fictitious name, or at least assumed by James Anderton of Lostock, in Lancashire, a person of singular parts and erudition, as well as master of a plentiful estate; who, having published several controversial treatises, assumed the name of Brereley in order to conceal his person, and secure himself against the penalties he might incur upon that account. Several authors I meet with positively affirm Mr. Anderton to have been the composer of the said works. Which is confirmed by some circumstances. The manuscripts in his own handwriting are still preserved in the family: where I have also seen a collection of protestant books with marginal notes by Mr. Anderton, and the passages scored with a pen accordingly as he had occasion to transcribe them and insert them in his works.’ Dodd also states expressly and emphatically that Anderton was a layman. According to the pedigree of the family printed in Baines's ‘History of the County Palatine of Lancaster,’ the master of the ‘plentiful estate,’ during the earlier part of the seventeenth century, was Roger Anderton of Birchley, who died in 1640, but he had a brother James, of whom Baines says that he ‘went abroad and became a catholic clergyman.’ On the whole it seems probable, in spite of Dodd's positive assertion to the contrary, that James Anderton was a priest and a younger brother.

The works of Anderton are: 1. ‘The Protestants Apologie for the Roman Chvrch. Deuided into three seuerall Tractes.’ It passed through three editions. In the preface to the second, which appeared in 1608, in the shape of a closely printed quarto of more than 800 pages, the author addresses an ‘Advertisement to him that shall answere this Treatise,’ namely to Dr. Morton, afterwards bishop of Durham, and ‘maketh bould to premonish him hereby of three things. First that in such his answere he would (at the least for so much therof as is yet to do) be pleased to take notice of this edition, and not insist upon advantage of the other firster, which was imperfect: and being (as was at first signified) published without the authors knowledg, was in such and other respects, suppressed by the authors speciall meanes, some few copies therof (which were at first over hastily divulged) onely excepted.’ The first edition thus complained of was published, according to Dodd, in 1604. The same writer states that the third edition was published in 1615; and a Latin translation of it, by William Rayner, a doctor of the Sorbonne, was published at Paris in the same year. The work, on its first appearance, attracted much attention. Dr. Morton, afterwards bishop of Durham, in the preface to his answer to it, acknowledges that whatever of real pith had been said against the protestant cause ‘seemeth herein to have been collected, urged, and reinforced against us with as singular choice of matter, with as ponderous weight of consequence, with an as exact and exquisite method and style, together with as sober a temper of speech as they’—the writers of the ‘Apologie,’ of whom he assumes more than one, ‘by their diligence, judgment, wit, art, and moderation, could easily perform. This seene,’ he adds, ‘forthwith our most reverend, careful, and religious metropolitane,’ Archbishop Bancroft, ‘commanded a certain number of divines, then at hand, to employ their studies for the perfecting of a satisfiable reply.’ Owing to various obstacles, however, the task fell upon Morton alone, who in 1610 published his answer under the title of ‘A Catholike Appeale for Protestants.’ The plan adopted in Brereley's book was to convict the protestants of inconsistency by producing from many of their writers passages in which they separately admitted each claim of the Roman catholic church. The plan of Morton, on the contrary, was to show that each of the doctrines had been held by some of the catholics who were admitted to be orthodox. His biographer, Dr. John Barwick, claims for him complete success, adducing as a proof the fact that none of his adversaries was ever so hardy as to attempt a rejoinder. Dodd, on the other hand, alleges that the catholic authors quoted by Morton were ‘singular in their opinions, and not allowed of by the rest of that communion. Again, the various disagreements he mentions were not concerning essential, but indifferent matters. These two considerations render his reply insignificant.’ 2. ‘The Liturgie of the Masse: wherein are treated three principal pointes of Faith. 1. That in the Sacrament of the Eucharist are truly and really contained the body and bloud of Christ. 2. That the Masse is a true and proper sacrifice of the body and bloud of Christ, offered to God by Preistes. 3. That communion of the Eucharist to the Laity under one kind is lawful. The ceremonies also of the Masse now used in the Catholicke Church, are al of them derived from the Primitive Church.’ Cologne, 1620, a thick vol. of 469 pages, 4to. 3. ‘St. Austin's Religion collected from his own Writings,’ 1620, 4to. This was replied to by William Crompton in a work entitled ‘Saint Austin's Religion: wherein is manifestly proued out of the Workes of that learned Father that he dissented from Poperie.’ Lond. 1624 and 1625, 4to. The second edition of this reply was revised by Archbishop Laud at the express direction of King Charles I, as appears from a passage in the archbishop's diary. 4. ‘The Reformed Protestant.’ This work is mentioned by Gee in his catalogue of popish books, and he adds: ‘There was a printing house suppressed about three years since [i.e. in 1621] in Lancashire, where all Brerely his works, with many other popish pamphlets, were printed.’ 5. ‘Luther's Life collected from the Writings of him selfe, and other learned Protestants, together with a further shorte discourse, touchinge Andreas Melanchton, Bucer, Ochine, Carolostadius, Suinglius, Caluine, and Beza, the late pretended Reformers of Religion. Taken from the onely reporte of learned Protestants themselves.’ St. Omer, 1624, 4to.

[Dodd's Church Hist. (1737), ii. 386; Baines's Lancashire, iii. 452, 453 (pedigree); Thomas Watts, in Biog. Dict. Soc. D. U. K. ii. 593; Bibl. Grenvilliana; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. ed. Bohn, i. 87, 262; Gee, The Foot out of the Snare (1624); Wharton's Hist. of the Troubles and Tryal of Archbishop Laud, i. 14; Barwick, Hieronikēs, or the Fight, Victory, and Triumph of St. Paul (Funeral Sermon on Bishop Morton, 1660), 132; Cat. Lib. Impress. Bibliothecæ Bodleianæ (1843), i. 326.]

T. C.