Cole, Henry (1500?-1580) (DNB00)

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COLE, HENRY (1500?–1580), dean of St. Paul's, was a native of Godshill in the Isle of Wight. He received his education at Winchester College, Oxford, and thence migrated to New College, of which he was a fellow from 26 Oct. 1521 to 1540 (Boase, Register of the University of Oxford, i. 313). He proceeded bachelor of the civil law, 3 March 1529-30, and soon afterwards travelled and studied abroad. In 1530 he was at Padua (Cotton MSS. Nero B, vi. ff. 145, 168), and in June 1537 at Paris. Some time in the reign of Henry VIII he read a civil law lecture at Oxford, receiving a stipend from the king. He complied with the ecclesiastical changes made in this reign acknowledging the king to be the head of the church in England. When long afterwards this was laid to his charge by Jewel, he could only reply that his accusers had also temporised in the same way (Jewel, Works, ed. Ayre, i. 60). In 1539 he became prebendary of Yatminster secunda in the church of Sarum. In July 1540 he was created doctor of the civil law at Oxford, and in the same year he resigned his fellowship at New College, and was admitted an advo- cate of the arches (Coote, Civilians, 36). On 11 Sept. 1540 he was collated to the rectory of Chelmsford, Essex (Lansd. MS. 981, f. 153), and on 5 Sept. following to the prebend of Holborn in the church of St. Paul. This he exchanged successively for other prebends in that church, namely, Sneating on 9 April 1541, and Wenlakesbarn on 22 March 1541-2. On 25 March 1542 he was ordained deacon on the title of his church of Chelmsford, and on 4 Oct. in that year he was elected Avarden of New College. He was instituted, on the presentation of the society of New College, to the rectory of Newton Longueville, Buckinghamshire, on 14 Sept. 1545.

It is said that in the earlier part of the reign of Edward VI he was zealous for the Reformation, that he was a warm admirer of Peter Martyr, that he frequented the protestant service and received the communion according to the new rite, and that he publicly advocated the reformed doctrines in the church of St. Martin, commonly called Carfax, at Oxford (Humfredus, Vita Juelli, 129-31). He seems, however, to have soon withdrawn from the cause of the reformers, for he resigned the rectory of Chelmsford in or about March 1547-8, the wardenship of New College on 16 April 1551, and the rectory of Newton Longueville in 1552.

On the accession of Queen Mary he entirely threw away the mask, and from that time forward stood firm to the old form of religion. He obtained the archdeaconry of Ely in 1553, and was in the commissions under which Tunstall and Bonner were restored to the bishoprics of Durham and London. In April 1554 he was one of the disputants against Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer at Oxford (Strype, Memorials of Cranmer, 335 folio), and on the 20th of that month he was installed canon of Westminster. On 13 July 1554 he was made provost of Eton College (Harwood, Alumni Eton. 7), and seven days afterwards the university of Oxford granted him the degrees of B.D. and D.D. without any exercise for the same.

Queen Mary privately gave Cole instructions to prepare a sermon to be preached at the burning of Archbishop Cranmer at Oxford. On 21 March 1555-6 Cranmer was brought to St. Mary's Church and placed on a low scaffold opposite the pulpit. Cole then began to deliver his sermon, the chief scope of which was a justification of putting the archbishop to death, notwithstanding his recantation. The preacher in concluding his discourse exhorted Cranmer not to despair, and, as an encouragement to hope for eternal salvation, alluded to the example of the penitent thief upon the cross. Cranmer had had no previous direct intimation of his intended execution. Cole has been severely censured for this uncharitable sermon, a sketch of which, written from memory by one of the auditory, is printed by Foxe and Strype (Memorials of Cranmer, 385 folio).

In July 1556 he was one of Cardinal Pole's delegates for the visitation of the university of Oxford, and on 11 Dec. he became dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, on the removal of Feckenham to Westminster. About this time he resigned the archdeaconry of Ely. His name occurs in the special commission against heresy issued 8 Feb. 1556-7, and on the 16th of the same month he was incorporated in the degree of D.D. at Cambridge, being then one of Cardinal Pole's delegates appointed to visit that university, with a view to the more complete re-establishment of the catholic religion. In this capacity he was present at the burning of the bodies of Bucer and Fagius (Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, ii. 112-15, 119-22, 125, 126).

On 28 Aug. 1557 Cardinal Pole appointed him his vicar-general in spirituals, on 1 Oct. the same year he became official of the arches and dean of the peculiars ; and in November hewas constituted judge of the archiepiscopal court of audience (Lansdowne MS. 981, f. 153 ; Strype, Eccl. Memorials, iii. 390, 391 folio). Cardinal Pole collated him on 6 July 1558 to the rectory of Wrotham, Kent, and on the 20th of the same month commissioned him to visit All Souls' College, Oxford, ' but the said Dr. Cole, whether by resignation or otherwise under some cloud with the cardinal, was this year divested of the spiritual offices conferred on him the last' (ib. 453). Soon afterwards he was sent to Ireland with a commission for the suppression of heresy. On his journey he stayed at Chester, where he was entertained by the mayor. The mayor's wife being a protestant, and suspecting his errand, opened the box containing the commission, which she abstracted, substituting for it a package of similar bulk and weight. Cole landed at Dublin on 7 Oct. 1558, and announced the object of his mission at a meeting of the privy council, whereupon Lord Fitzwalter, the lord deputy, handed the box to the secretary, who opened it, expecting of course to find the commission enclosed. Great was the consternation when it was discovered that it contained only a pack of cards with the knave of clubs uppermost. The lord deputy said 'Let us have another commission, and we will meanwhile shuffle the cards' (Life of Abp. Browne, ed. 1661, p. 17). Cole hurried back to England, and obtained another commission, but while he was staying for a wind at the waterside the news reached him that the queen was dead, 'and thus God preserved the protestants in Ireland.' This singular anecdote is related on the authority of Archbishop Ussher (Cox, Hist. of Ireland, i. 308). Cardinal Pole constituted Cole one of the overseers of his will (Strype, Eccl. Memorials, iii. 468).

He was one of the eight Roman catholic divines appointed to argue against the same number of protestants in the disputation which began at Westminster Abbey, 31 March 1559, before a great assembly of peers and members of the House of Commons. Cole was appointed spokesman of the catholic party, and on the first day defended the use of the Latin language in the public services of the church. Jewel, in a letter to Peter Martyr, says: 'I never heard any one rave after a more solemn and dictatorial manner. Had my friend Julius been present, he would have exclaimed a hundred times over, Poh! whoreson knave!' (Jewel, Works, iv. 1202, 1203). On the second day the conference was abruptly brought to a termination by the lord keeper (Bacon). Cole was fined five hundred marks for contempt, and then, or soon afterwards, lost all his preferments. On 20 May 1560 he was committed to the Tower, whence he was removed to the Fleet on 10 June following (Machyn, Diary, 235, 238). His subsequent history is involved in some uncertainty. It is said that he regained his liberty on 4 April 1574, but his name occurs in a list of prisoners in the Fleet in 1579. According to some accounts, he died in or near Wood Street compter in December that year; and, according to another statement, he was buried on 4 Feb. 1579-80. He was probably eighty years of age. It has, indeed, been asserted that he was in his eighty-seventh year, but this may be reasonably questioned.

Leland, the antiquary, who was personally acquainted with Cole, speaks of him in terms of high praise (Encomia, 79). Roger Ascham also commends him, remarking in a letter addressed to him: 'I have heard so much by common report of your erudition, and by Mr. Morysin of your humanity, that I must renounce all pretensions to learning if I did not esteem you, and be altogether inhuman if I did not love you' (Epistolœ, 261, 270). Strype, on the other hand, describes Cole as 'a person more earnest than wise.'

His works are:

  1. Disputation with Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer at Oxford. In Foxe's 'Acts and Monuments.'
  2. The sum and effect of his sermon at Oxford, when Archbishop Cranmer was burnt. In Foxe's 'Acts and Monuments.'
  3. Answer to the first proposition of the protestants at the disputation before the lords at Westminster, 1559. Manuscript in library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, 121, p. 185; printed in Burnet's 'Hist. of the Reformation,' Records, pt. 2, b. 3, n. 4.
  4. 'Letters to John [Jewel], Bishop of Sarum, upon occasion of a Sermon that the said Bishop preached before the Queen's Majesty and her most honorable Counsell, an. 1560,' London, 1560, 8vo. Also in Jewel's 'Works.'
  5. 'Answer to certain parcels of the letters of the Bishop of Sarum' (respecting the said sermon). In Jewel's 'Works.'

[Bentham's Ely, 277; Biog. Brit.; Cooper's Athenæ Cantab. i. 417; Cox's Hibernia Anglicana, i. 308; Dodd's Church Hist. i. 520; Foxe's Acts and Monuments; Fuller's Church Hist. (Brewer), ii. 367, 454, iv. 274; Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Rep. 43; Parker Society Publications (gen. index); Rymer's Fœdera (1713), xv. 334; Strype's Works (gen. index); Tanner's Bibl. Brit.; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), i. 450, Fasti, i. 81, 113, 144.]

T. C.