Cheyney, Richard (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

CHEYNEY, RICHARD (1513–1578), bishop of Gloucester, born in London, according to Strype, in 1513, was a scholar of Christ's College, Cambridge, where he proceeded B.A. in 1528-9. In 1530 he was elected fellow of Pembroke Hall; was ordained subdeacon 24 Feb. 1531-2, and priest 21 Sept. 1534; commenced M.A. in 1532 and B.D. in 1540. He supported Sir John Cheke [q. v.] in the controversy on Greek pronunciation. He received the livings of Maids Moreton, Buckinghamshire, of Bishop's Hampton, Herefordshire, of Plainsford, Gloucestershire, and of Halford, Warwickshire; but the dates of institution are unknown. He was, he tells us, much about the court in King Edward's time, and on 3 Feb. 1551-2 he was appointed archdeacon of Hereford, and afterwards one of the keepers of the spiritualities of the see of Hereford during a vacancy. As archdeacon he attended the convocation of Canterbury at the beginning of the reign of Queen Mary (October 1553). According to Heylyn very few of 'King Edward's clergy' were present. By the command of the queen the convocation proceeded to vote a proposition declaratory of transubstantiation in the eucharist. Against this six divines offered to dispute, viz.: Phillips, dean of Rochester; Haddon, dean of Exeter; Philpot, archdeacon of Winchester; Aylmer, archdeacon of Stow; Cheyney, archdeacon of Hereford; and one other whose name is not recorded. Haddon and Aylmer were at first unwilling to comply with the conditions proposed for the discussion, but Cheyney at once commenced it, and, the others afterwards coming to his assistance, it was continued for four days before a large auditory. His disputation is printed in Foxe's 'Acts.' Although the archdeacon had thus made himself conspicuous by defending what were then highly dangerous opinions, it appears that he did not resign his archdeaconry until 1557, and became canon of Gloucester 14 Nov. 1558. Cheyney held Lutheran views on the subject of the Eucharist, which were not so displeasing to Queen Mary's divines as the views held by Cranmer and the majority of the reformed divines. But he probably owed his immunity from trouble during the reign of Queen Mary to his having retired for a time to his living of Halford in the diocese of Worcester. This diocese, under Bishop Pate, was one of those which were exempted from executions for heresy under Queen Mary. The living was rated at 10l. in the king's books (Liber Valorum, 1536). Cheyney contrived to live, though he had to pay the priest whom he employed to perform the services the sum of ten pounds per annum. Probably, however, there was a glebe attached to the benefice which he farmed, and this would explain the complaint which he made to Queen Elizabeth. On her accession Cheyney appears to have started at once on a preaching tour, and, having considerable power as an orator, did his best to recommend the restoration of the reformed doctrines. During his absence on this work the ecclesiastical visitors employed to carry out the queen's injunctions of 1559 visited Halford, where they found the rector absent, and the priest in charge probably quite of the old way. They amerced the absent incumbent and seized upon his corn. Cheyney was well known to Cecil, and was very soon (6 April 1560) invited to preach before the queen. He then told her that her visitors ought rather to be called takers, as they had taken a quantity of corn from him and impoverished his living. Soon afterwards, in a letter to Cecil, he complained 'that he was in his younger days employed at the court, but he thought he must now make an end at the cart,' though many who had done far less were now favourites. The reproach was unjust as far as Cecil was concerned. On 21 June 1560 Cheyney was appointed canon of Westminster, and the provostship of Eton being vacant by deprivation, Archbishop Parker recommended Cheyney for the post as 'a good, grave, and priestly man.' This promotion he did not however receive, but in the next year (1562) he obtained by Cecil's influence the bishopric of Gloucester, to which he was consecrated April 19, and by letters patent bearing date April 29 was allowed to hold the see of Bristol in commendam. On 3 May the archbishop issued a commission to Cheyney, as commendatory of the see of Bristol, to visit the diocese, appointing him his vicar-general in spirituals. At this period the teaching of Calvin was in high repute in England, and with this theology Cheyney had no sympathy. He held strongly the doctrine of the freedom of the will. Three of his sermons (preached 22 Aug., 29 Aug., 1 Sept. 1568) gave such offence at Bristol that he was answered in the cathedral by Dr. James Calfhill [q.v.], and also by Mr. Northbrook, a preacher of Bristol (State Papers of Elizabeth, Domestic, xlviii. 11; extracts from the sermons are in Strype's 'Annals'). On another visit to Bristol the bishop again preached on the freedom of the will and on the corporal presence in the Eucharist. Upon this the citizens of Bristol made a formal complaint to Cecil, and the case was brought before the council. The archbishop had previously withdrawn his commission for Bristol diocese from Cheyney, and appointed John Cotterell in his place 23 May 1563. The bishop, much annoyed, wrote to Cecil, complaining of the encouragement thus given to puritanism which was rampant in his diocese, and expressing his wish to resign his see. Cecil was willing to translate Cheyney to Chichester in 1568, but the archbishop objected. On 19 Aug. 1568 Parker wrote to Cecil: 'We of this order learn by experience what rule Gloucester maketh in his people. He is so old [? odd] that he would bring his people to their contemplations, which he laboureth to do, but spyeth that he shall never, and thereupon wisheth that he were discharged, which he hath pretended a long time. But he meaneth another thing' (Parker Correspondence, p. 332). The bitterness apparent in this letter was no doubt due to the opposition which Cheyney had made to the Thirty-nine Articles of 1563. We learn from a letter (22 Dec. 1566) of Bishop Guest to Cecil that Cheyney was greatly offended by the insertion of the word 'only' in Article XXVIII on the Eucharist, and that he found it impossible to subscribe to this statement of doctrine. This article was drawn up by Bishop Guest, who defended it against Cheyney, but without success (State Papers of Eliz. Dom. xli. 51). In 1569 the degree of D.D. was conferred on Cheyney at Cambridge. In 1571 it became obligatory on all the bishops and clergy to subscribe the articles. Cheyney refused to attend the convocation or to sign. Upon this it was unanimously resolved that he was contumacious and ought to be excommunicated. Accordingly the sentence of excommunication was pronounced by the archbishop (20 April), and was entrusted to the archdeacon of Gloucester, accompanied by the queen's pursuivant, to be published in the cathedral of Gloucester. Two or three days after a chaplain of the bishop appeared for him as proxy and requested absolution. This was granted, but only to the next meeting of convocation, when it would be necessary for the bishop to attend and give explanations. He apparently submitted, and was absolved on 12 May 1571. But he seems to have remained under a sort of ban, and was so far isolated from his brethren that the Jesuit Campion, who had received special marks of kindness from Cheyney, thought him a favourable subject to work on with a view to conversion. In his letter to Cheyney, by whom he had been ordained, he commends him for dealing gently with Romanists in his diocese, and earnestly exhorts him to embrace the Romish communion. The letter produced no effect. Cheyney had been a leading antagonist to Rome, and was not inclined to accept her claims. Cheyney continued to act as bishop of Gloucester, becoming very popular by his liberality. 'He affected good housekeeping,' says Strype, 'and kept many servants, which ran him much into debt.' The crown had then the power to take episcopal manors, and about October 1576 process issued out of the exchequer to seize his lands and goods for 500l. due to the queen for arrears of tenths. The principles of the bishop were such as Elizabeth would sympathise with, as he was for retaining pictures and crucifixes in churches, and held the highest views on the Eucharist. But her majesty was |not inclined to forego her money claims for this reason. The bishop, however, begged for time, and the request seems to have been granted. Strype says of him that 'he was an excellent man, and preserved his palace and farms in good case and condition.' He was 'the only one among the Elizabethan bishops who held what are generally known as Anglo-catholic views. Cheyney died on 29 April 1579 at the age of sixty-five, and was buried in his cathedral of Gloucester.

[Strype's Annals of Reformation, chaps, xxi. xxv. (Oxford, 1824); Parker Correspondence (Cambridge, 1863); State Papers of Elizabeth (Domestic), vols. xli. xlviii; Cooper's Athenae Cantabrigienses, i. 400-2, and the authorities there cited.]

G. G. P.