Burhill, Robert (DNB00)

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BURHILL or BURGHILL, ROBERT (1572–1641), divine, born at Dymock, Gloucestershire, was descended from the Burghills of Thinghill, Herefordshire. He entered Corpus Christi College, Oxford, on 13 Jan. 1587–8, and proceeded B.A. on 5 Feb. 1590–1, M.A. on 12 Dec. 1594, B.D. on 7 July 1603, and D.D. on 2 June 1632. He became a probationer fellow of his college on 20 March 1584–5, obtained the rectories of Northwold, near Thetford, Norfolk, and of Snailwell, Cambridgeshire, and a prebend in Hereford Cathedral on 20 Jan. 1603–4. His wide learning, which embraced a knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, attracted the attention of Sir Walter Raleigh, who received assistance from him in the composition of his ‘History of the World’ (Oldys, Life of Walter Raleigh). He died at Northwold in October 1641, and was buried in the chancel of the church there. A monument was erected to his memory by Samuel Knight, archdeacon of Berkshire, about 1740. He was a voluminous contributor to controversial divinity. He intervened in 1606 in a controversy between John Howson (bishop of Oxford, 1619–28) and Dr. Thomas Pye as to the marriage of divorced persons. In a Latin tractate (Oxford, 1606) Burhill supported Howson's contention that marriage in such cases was unlawful, and refuted Pye's opposite arguments. His pamphlet was bound up with a second edition of Howson's ‘Thesis.’ To the controversy excited by Bishop Andrewes's ‘Tortura Torti,’ a reply to Cardinal Bellarmine, Burhill contributed ‘Responsio pro Tortura Torti contra Martinum Becanum Jesuitam,’ London, 1611; ‘De Potestate regia et Usurpatione papali pro Tortura Torti contra Parellum Andr. Eudæmon,’ Oxford, 1613; and ‘Assertio pro Jure regio contra Martini Becani Jesuitæ Controversiam Anglicanam,’ London, 1613, together with a defence of John Buckeridge's answer to Cardinal Bellarmine's apology. Burhill's printed works also include a Latin panegyric on James I, inviting him to visit Oxford (Oxford, 1603), and a preface to a sermon (London, 1602) of Miles Smith, bishop of Gloucester, 1612–24. In Corpus Christi College Library at Oxford is a manuscript commentary by Burhill on the difficult passages in Job; in the Bodleian are another manuscript tractate in support of monarchy and episcopacy, and a manuscript Latin poem in ten books, entitled ‘Britannia Scholastica, vel de Britanniæ rebus scholasticis.’

[Wood's Athenæ, ed. Bliss, iii. 18–19; Fasti, ed. Bliss, i. 250, 267, 299, 466; Edwards's Life of Raleigh, i. 543–4.]

S. L. L.