Cole, William (d.1600) (DNB00)
COLE, WILLIAM, D.D. (d. 1600) president of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, 1568-1598, dean of Lincoln 1598-1600, a native of Lincoln, 'ortu Lincolniensis' (Registers of C.C.C.), was admitted at Corpus Christi 28 July 1545. He proceeded to the degree of B.A. in 1548, M.A. 1552, and became fellow of his college. Having embraced reformed doctrines, and taken rank as one of the leaders of the protestant cause in the university of Oxford, on the accession of Queen Mary in 1553, he found it necessary to seek safety by flight, forming one of the large band of scholars and divines who took refuge in various towns of Germany and Switzerland till the storm of persecution had passed. The place of refuge selected by Cole and his companions was Zurich, of which the celebrated Bullinger was then chief pastor. Cole's name appears in the signatures to the letter addressed oy the protestant exiles on their arrival at Zurich in 1554 to the magistrates of the town, stating the cause of their banishment, and requesting permission to reside there, and praying to be protected from all violence (Zurich Letters, iii. 752, Parker Society). Zurich, we are told, attracted 'the greatest scholars' among the refugees (Fuller, Church Hist. iv. 206). Among Cole's companions were Pilkington and Home, afterwards respectively, bishops of Durham and Winchester, and Home's wife Margery. Their request was readily acceded to by the civil authorities of the town, and the exiles found a congenial home at Zurich, where they were treated most hospitably by the leading inhabitants, until the death of Mary allowed them to return to England. Cole with eleven others, including Laurence Humphrey, afterwards regius professor of divinity at Oxford, and Parkhurst, afterwards bishop of Norwich, were received in the house of Christopher Froschover, the celebrated protestant printer, who had been resident in Oxford in 1550 and 1551, while studying under Peter Martyr. Here they were welcomed with the greatest kindness, only paying for their board, and ' dwelling together like brothers with great glee ' (Laurence Humphrey, Life of Jewell ; Strype, Memorials, iii. i. 232, 519). During his residence at Zurich Cole received great kindness from Rudolph Gualter, the host of Parkhurst, then minister of St. Peter's Church, and afterwards Bullinger's successor as chief pastor of the town. Cole in his letters speaks very gratefully of the 'numberless benefits' with which Gualter, 'above all others,' 'loaded him and the other English exiles.' These acts of kindness he had an opportunity of repaying when Gualter's son, Rudolph theyounger, who had visited England for the purpose of study at Bishop Parkhurst's cost, after a residence at Cambridge, came in 1573 to Oxford, where he made Magdalen College his home, and received the degree of M. A., returning to Zurich in 1574. There are several letters of Cole's to Gualter senior in the 'Zurich Letters' of the Parker Society (ii. 222, 256, 307), and one of Gualter junior to Simler, describing Cole's behaviour to him (ib. p. 218). The last of Cole's letters to Gualter was written in 1579 to condole with him on his son's death. In this letter Cole mentions that nearly all the company of Zurich exiles were dead, scarcely five of them surviving (ib. 307). During his residence at Zurich Cole united with Coverdale, Whittingham, Calvin's brother-in-law, Gilby, Sampson, and others in the revision of the English translation of the holy scriptures, which resulted in that which is known as the ' Geneva Bible.' The work was incomplete when the accession of Queen Elizabeth broke up the society of revisers by removing the obstacle to their return to their native country. Cole was among those who at once came back to England, leaving Whittingham and one or two more to complete the work, which was published in 1560 (Strype, Annals, i. i. 343). We may conclude that he returned to Oxford, and was restored to his fellowship, which he exchanged for the presidentship of his college in 1568. He was appointed by the queen, in defiance of the wishes of the college, which, Strype tells us, 'being popishly inclined,' 'having no mind to have Cole, his wife and children, and Zurichian discipline introduced among them' (Wood, Annals, ii. 165), refused to admit the royal nominee, and elected one Harrison, who had previously left the college 'on popish grounds.' The opposition of the college to the royal will was fruitless. Elizabeth annulled the election, and Cole's former companion in exile, Home, now bishop of Winchester, and visitor of the college, was commanded to admit Cole. The college gates, which were closed against the new head, were broken in, and Cole was placed by force in the presidentship, and sworn in 19 July 1560 (Styrpe, Grindal, 196 ; Parker, i. 528). A visitation was held ; some of the fellows were expelled as Roman catholics, while those who were 'inclined that way were curbed, and the protestants encouraged' (Wood, Annals, u.s.) Cole's long tenure of his office, extending over thirty years, has left but little record. According to Wood, he was considered 'an excellent governor of youth,' but the same writer charges him with having 'so foully defrauded the college and brought it into such debt' that his old friend Bishop Home, to whom as visitor complaints had been made, 'plainly told him he and the college must part without more ado, and he must provide for himself.' On this, writes Wood, 'Cole fetched a deep sigh, and said, "What, my lord, must I then eat mice at Zurich again?" ' This allusion to the first miseries of their joint exile touched Home, who 'bid him be at rest and deal honestly with the college' (Wood, Annals, ii. 166 ; Athenæ Oxon. ii. 13, iii. 430). He filled the office of vice-chancellor in 1577, when 24 Nov. he sent to the privy council a certificate of the popish recusants within the university and town, with additional particulars regarding them (State Papers, Domestic, sub ann.) Ecclesiastical preferment now began to flow in. In 1571 he was presented by his college to the benefice of ' Heyford ad pontem,' now Lower Heyford, Oxfordshire (Wood, Fasti, i. 194 note). In 1574 he received the prebendal stall of Bedford Major in the cathedral church of Lincoln, and 29 July 1577 was made archdeacon of Lincoln by royal letters (Rymer, xv. 780), a dignity resigned by him in 1580. Cole was unsuccessfully recommended by Bishop Aylmer for the see of Oxford (Styrpe, Aylmer, p. 110). In 1598 Cole exchanged the presidentship of Corpus for the deanery of Lincoln with the celebrated Dr. John Reynolds, 'that treasury of erudition,' a member of the same college. Reynolds had been appointed to the deanery in 1594, but an academic life was far more to his taste, and after a short trial of his new office he gladly returned to his beloved Oxford, where he had 'more leisure to follow his studies, and to have communication with learned men' (Wood, Ath. Oxon. ii. 13). Cole was installed dean by proxy 17 Oct. 1598, and personally 2 June 1599. His enjoyment of his decanal office was brief, and has left no record in the chapter acts beyond his signature to receipts, in a very clear, well-formed hand. He died about Michaelmas 1600, and was buried in his cathedral church. A monument, now destroyed, was erected to him by his daughter Abigail, with a rhymed epitaph, characterised by detestable plays upon words, given by Browne Willis (Cathedrals, iii. 79), recording that
He sought God's glory and the Church's good,
Idle Idol worship firmly he withstood;
and expressing the assurance that
When the latter Trump of Heaven shall blow,
Cole, now raked in ashes, then shall glow.
Cole had several children, but the above-named daughter, who married Henry Stratford of Hawley in the county of Gloucester, is the only one of whom there is any record. Among the letters of Simon Trippe (Addit. MS. Brit. Mus. 6251, p. 39) is one to him accompanying a gift of rosewater, which he thinks may prove serviceable to Mrs. Cole, who had very recently become the mother of a son, on whose birth the writer congratulates him. Cole's only known writings are the letters to the Parker Society's series already referred to.
[Wood's Fasti, i. 182, 194, 205, 238; Athenæ, i. 447, ii. 13, iii. 430; Boase's Registers of Univ. of Oxford, p. 215; Strype's Annals, i. i. 343; Memorials, iii. i. 232, 519; Parker, i. 528; Grindal, p. 196; Aylmer, p. 110; Zurich Letters, ii. 218, 222,256, 307, iii. 752; Rymer. xv. 780; Willis's Cathedrals, iii. 79; State Papers, Domestic, 1598, pp. 118, 567; Landsdowne MS. 982, f. 219.]