Barlow, William (d.1613) (DNB00)

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BARLOW, WILLIAM (d. 1613), bishop of Lincoln, is stated by Wood to have belonged to the family settled at Barlow Moor, near Manchester, but is thought by Baker to have been born in London. He was educated at the expense of Dr. Richard Cosin, the famous civilian, dean of the arches, the college friend and contemporary of Whitgift, at St. John's College, Cambridge, where he graduated as B.A. 1583-4 and M.A. 1587. His reputation for learning led to his being elected fellow of Trinity Hall, 1590, where he took the theological degree of B.D. in 1594 and D.D. in 1599. The introduction of Barlow by Cosin to Archbishop Whitgift laid the foundation of his advancement. Whitgift made him his chaplain, and in 1597 appointed him rector of St. Dunstan's-in-the-East, by the Tower. The same year he was presented by Bishop Bancroft to the prebendal stall of Chiswick in St. Paul's Cathedral, which he held till 1601, when he received a stall at Westminster, which he retained in commendam till his death. For two years, 1606-8, he also held a prebendal stall at Canterbury, together with the deanery of Chester, which he received in 1602, and resigned on his consecration to the see of Rochester in 1605. By Whitgift's recommendation Barlow was made chaplain to Queen Elizabeth. His sermons were to her majesty's taste, and he was often appointed to preach before her. One sermon 'on the plough,' we are told by Sir John Harington (Brief View of the State of the Church, p. 148), the queen greatly commended, saying that 'Barlow's text might seem taken from the cart, but his talk might teach all in the court.' Barlow was appointed, with two others, by the queen to attend on the unhappy Earl of Essex while under sentence of death in the Tower, and at his semi-private execution within the walls of the fortress on Ash Wednesday, 25 Feb. 1600-1. The following Sunday he preached by royal command at Paul's Cross, with instructions from Cecil, followed by him most precisely, to make known to the people the earl's acknowledgment of his guilt and his profession of repentance for his treasonable designs (State Papers, vol. cclxxviii.). On the death of his patron, Dr. Cosin, in 1597, Barlow published 'a biography, or rather panegyric,' in Latin, couched in the language of fulsome eulogy of the great customary in that age. On the opening of convocation in 1601, Barlow's position as one of the rising divines of the day was recognised by his selection to preach the Latin sermon in St. Paul's. This was probably the sermon which, according to Sir John Harington, was so 'much misliked' by the puritans that they contemptuously termed it the 'Barley Loaf.' On the accession of James I, Barlow, as one of the leading members of the church party as opposed to the puritans, was summoned in January 1604 to take part in the Hampton Court conference for discussing the points of difference between the two sections of the church. Of the proceedings of this conference Barlow drew up, by Archbishop Whitgift's desire, a report entitled 'The Summe and Substance of the Conference,' which is the chief authority on the subject. The puritans afterwards denounced Barlow's account as grossly partial to his own side, and very unfair to them. Their leaders, Dr. Reynolds and Dr. Sparkes, complained that 'they were wronged by his relation,' a charge which is to a certain extent endorsed by Fuller, the church historian, in his remark that Barlow, 'being a party, set a sharp edge on his own and a blunt one on his adversaries' weapons' (Ch. Hist. chap. x.). It admits of question, however, how far these complaints are well grounded. The fact that, as Heylyn observes, 'the truth and honesty of the narrative was universally approved for fifty years,' and the absence of any more correct narrative on the other side, acquit Barlow of anything like wilful misrepresentation, and his report is probably as fair a one as could be expected from a warm partisan who could hardly fail to do, perhaps unconsciously, injustice to objections he could not sympathise with and a tone of feeling which was at variance with his own. The story that Barlow was much troubled on his death-bed with the injustice he had done the puritans in his narrative is rejected by Heylyn as 'a silly fiction.' A graver charge is brought against Barlow of having suppressed the strong charges brought by James against 'the corruptions of the church' and 'the practice of prelates,' when Bishop Andrewes is reported to have said 'for five hours his majesty did wonderfully play the puritan.' Certainly no such language, if ever uttered by the king, is to be found in Barlow's report; and it was subsequently objected by the impugners of Barlows veracity that such a suppression threw doubt on the faithfulness of the whole, for 'if the king's own speeches were thus dishonestly treated, it would be much more likely that those of other men were tampered with.' However this may be, there is no doubt that, in the interest of decorum, Barlow lopped off excrescences, and toned down James's coarse and abusive language. Barlow's own preface offers a painful example of the gross sycophancy which was the disgrace of the churchmen of that age when speaking of kings and others in high rank, of which the conference as a whole affords a pitiful spectacle.

In that which was almost the only valuable result of this conference, the revision of the translation of the Bible, which has given us the authorised version, Barlow had a share. His name as dean of Chester stands first of the company of scholars meeting at Westminster, to whom the apostolic epistles, 'Romans to Jude inclusive,' were entrusted.

On the death of Bishop Young, Barlow was elevated to the see of Rochester, being consecrated at Lambeth 30 Jan. 1605. He had the reputation, according to Harington, of being 'one of the youngest in age, but one of the ripest in learning,' of all that had occupied the see. 'It is like,' adds the worthy knight, 'that he shall not abide there long,' a prophecy fulfilled when, in three years' time, he was translated to the see of Lincoln.

After his elevation to the see of Rochester, Barlow's powers as a controversialist were publicly recognised by his being selected, together with Bishop Andrews and Drs. Buckeridge and King, afterwards bishops of Ely and London, in September 1606, to preach one of the course of controversial sermons at Hampton Court, commanded by the king in the vain hope of converting the learned and highly gifted presbyterian divine, Andrew Melville, and his nephew James, who had been summoned by James I to appear before him, to the acceptance of the episcopal form of church government and the acknowledgment of the royal supremacy. Bishop Barlow's sermon 'concerning the Antiquity and Superioritie of Bishops,' on Acts xx. 28, was the first of the four. Its effect on him whom it was intended to convince is commemorated in one of Melville's caustic epigrams (Muses, pp. 23, 24):—

In Concionem Doctoris Barlo dictam Catecheticam.

Praxiteles Gnidiæ Veneris dum sculperet ora,
   Cratinæ ad vultus sculpsit et ora suæ.
Divinum Barlo Pastorem ut sculperet, Angli
   Præsulis ad vultum sculpsit et ora sui.
Praxiteles Venerem sculpsit divamne lupamve?
   Pastorem Barlo sculpserat, anne lupum?

When, two years later, 1608, Parsons, the jesuit, writing under the disguise of 'a banished catholic Englishman,' attacked the 'Apology for the Oath of Allegiance,' in which James I, 'transferring his quarrel with the pope from the field of diplomacy to that of literature, had refuted the asserted right of the Bishop of Rome to depose sovereigns and to authorise their subjects to take up arms against them, he received a learned and elaborate answer from Barlow, who in the meantime had been translated to the see of Lincoln, 27 June 1600. To this Parsons wrote a reply, published in 1612 after the author's death. It was also answered by another English Roman catholic named FitzHerbert.

Barlow's career as bishop of Lincoln was uneventful. He continued to reside partly in his prebendal house at Westminster, from which he wrote several lamentable letters to Cecil, praying for the remission of the firstfruits of his see, 'his necessities pressing on him' (Calendar of State Papers, 1609, 1610). He died somewhat suddenly, in his palace at Buckden, 7 Sept. 1613, and was buried in the chancel of Buckden church. His monument, which had been defaced by the puritans, was restored by his successor and namesake, Bishop Thomas Barlow [see Barlow, Thomas], who, by his request, was buried in the same grave.

Bishop Barlow's published works are as follows: 1. 'Vita et obitus Ricardi Cosin,' 1598. 2. 'Sermon preached at Paules Crosse, 1 March 1600, with a short Discourse of the late Earle of Essex, his confession and penitence before and at the time of his death,' 1601. 3. 'A Defense of the Articles of the Protestant Religion in answer to a libell lately cast abroad,' 1601. 4. 'The Summe and Substance of the Conference at Hampton Court,' 1604. 5. 'Sermon on Acts xx. 28, preached at Hampton Court,' 1607. 6. 'Answer to a Catholike Englishman (so by himself entituled),' 1609.

[Baker's History of St. John's College, Cambridge, ed. Mayer; Godwin de Præsulibus; Sir J. Harington's Brief View of the State of the Church of England; Neal's History of the Puritans; Fuller's Church History; Heylyn's History of Presbyterianism; Cardwell's Conferences; Spotiswood's History of the Church of Scotland; Heylyn's Life of Laud.]

E. V.