Bernard, Nicholas (DNB00)

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BERNARD, NICHOLAS, D.D. (d. 1661), divine, was born about the commencement of the seventeenth century, and educated at Cambridge, though nothing is known of his academic course. Having migrated to Ireland, he was ordained by Archbishop Ussher, in St. Peter's church, Drogheda, in 1626 (Wood, Athenae Oxon.) He became the archbishop's chaplain and librarian. On 12 July 1627 he was presented to the deanery of Kilmore (another account states that he was nominated by the archbishop and elected on 9 Oct. 1627, and installed same day). Ussher, in his 'Visitation Book of the Province' in 1622, says of Kilmore: 'This deanery is merely titulary, nothing belonging to it, but the bishop for the time being made choice of any one of his clergie whom he thought fittest to give unto the name title of a deane.' In the taxation-book of King James I, six years previously (1616) we find this entry. 'Decanatus de Kilmore, 20l.'

In 1628 Bernard was incorporated M.A. of Oxford. In 1637 he exchanged with the Very Rev. Henry Jones, D.D., the deanery of Kilmore for that of Ardagh. The patent is dated 22 June of that year, and his installation took place on 3 Nov. In the taxation by the commissioners of Queen Elizabeth, dated 1586, the entry occurs: ' Decanatus Ardach 14l., sterling money.' On 13 July 1637 he became prebendary of Dromore. The rebellion of 1641 caused him much suffering. In connection with the rebellion he wrote some interesting pamphlets, of which the titles are: 1. 'The whole Proceedings of the Siege of Drogheda in Ireland, with a thankful Remembrance of its wonderful Delivery, raised with God's Assistance by the Prayers and sole Valour of the Besieged, with a Relation of such Passages as have fallen out there and in the Parts near adjoining,' Dublin, 1642. 2. 'A Letter sent from Dr. Barnard [sic], Parson of Tredagh . . . wherein divers very memorable Passages twixt the King's Armies and the Rebels,' 1641. 3. 'The whole Proceedings of the Siege of Derry,' 1642. 4. 'A worthy Relation from Deane Bernard concerning . . . our Forces in the County of Louth,' 1642. These are vivid narratives, and have not been utilised historically as they might have been. They give us overlooked details and the verdict of a keen observer. Before these, he had printed an extraordinary story–'The penitent Death of a woful Sinner, John Atherton [Bishop of Waterford], executed at Dublin the 6th of December 1640. With a Sermon preached at the Funeral of the said John Atherton' [q. v.], Dublin, 1641. This was for long a popular chap-book. Bernard did not–like many of the resident Englishmen–fly to England in the outset. He bore the brunt of the tempest. He preached a 'Farewell Sermon' at Drogheda in 1649 on 2 Corinthians xiii. 11, 'Of Comfort and Concord,' London, 1651. In 1642, together with his books on the siege, he had published 'Dialogue between Paul and Agrippa,' London, 1642..

He returned to England, probably about 1649. He was appointed preacher of Gray's Inn 17 June 1651. He was further appointed chaplain and almoner to Oliver Cromwell. While he filled the latter office the great James Ussher, archbishop of Dublin, died on 21 March 1655, and on the 31st of that month 'Oliver the Protector' signed a warrant directed to the lords of the treasury for the sum of 200l. to bear the charges of his funeral; the amount was paid to Bernard. Bernard published the 'Life and Death of Archbishop Ussher in a Sermon preached at his Funeral at Westminster, 1656,' and in the following year 'The Judgment of the late Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of Ireland, of the Extent of Christ's Death and Satisfaction, of the Sabbath and Observation of the Lord's Day and of Ordination in other Reformed Churches, with a Vindication of him from a pretended Change of Opinion in the First, some Advertisements upon the Latter, and in Prevention of further Injuries, a Declaration of his Judgment on several other Subjects,' 1657. This led to an exchange of passionate letters between Bernard and Dr. Peter Heylin. Heylin commented on Bernard's works about Ussher, and defended himself from what he regarded as slanders on his good name contained in them, in the two tracts–P. Heylyn's Extraneus Vapulans; or the Observator rescued from the violent but vaine assaults of H. L'Estrange, Esq., and the Back-blows of Dr. Bernard, c.,; 1656'–'P. Heylyn. Respondet Petrus, or the Answer of Peter Heylyn ... to so much of Dr. Bernard's Book entituled " The Judgment of the late Primate of Ireland," and as he is made a Party,' 1658.

In 1647 Bernard had somehow got into difficulties with those who might have been expected to be in sympathy with him. A singular tractate, dated 1648, bore the title, 'The Still-borne Nativitie, or a Copy of an Incarnation Sermon [on John i. 14] that should have been delivered at St. Margaret's, Westminster, 25. Dec. 1647, by Nicholas Bernard, but prevented by the Committee for Plunder'd Ministers, who sent and seized the Preacher and committed him to the Fleet for his undertaking to preach without the licence of Parliament,' London [31 Jan. 1647], 1648.

On 16 July 1660 Bernard was appointed by the patron, John, earl of Bridgwater, rector of Whitchurch, Shropshire. At the Restoration he was offered, but declined, his former deanery of Ardagh. He was now old, and preferred the learned leisure of a not overburdensome post. In 1659 he published 'Devotions of the Ancient Church, in Seven Pious Prayers.' In the same year followed, or possibly preceded, 'Certain Discourses, to which is added a Character of Bishop Bedell, with a Sermon by him on Rev. xviii. 4, and an Answer to Mr. Pierce, 1659.' Finally came 'Clavi Trabales, or Nails fastened by some great Masters of Assemblies, confirming the King's Supremacy, the Subjects' Duty and Church Government by Bishops, being a Collection of some Pieces written on these Subjects by Archbishop Ussher, Mr. Hooker, Bishop Andrewes, and Dr. Hadrian Saravia, with a preface by the Bishop of Lincoln. Published by Nicholas Bernard, 1661.'

He died on 15 Oct. 1661, and his 'buryal' entry is thus made in the parish register of his church of Whitchurch: 'Nickolas Bernard, rector of Whitchurch, dyed the 15 of Octob. and was buryed Novemb. 7 [1661].' Philip Henry calls him 'a worthy and moderate man.' One of William Marshall's best engravings is a portrait of Dr. Bernard.

[Cotton's Fasti Ecclesiae Hibernicae (1851), i. and vii. iii. pp. 163, 172, 187, 302, v. pp. 229-30; Ware's Writers of Ireland (Works, iii. 342, &c.); Williams's Life of Philip Henry, p. 269; communications from Rev. Thomas Hamilton, M.A., Belfast, and Rev. W. H. Egerton, M.A., rector of Whitchurch.]

A. B. G.