Cranmer, George (DNB00)

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CRANMER, GEORGE (1563–1600), secretary to Davison and friend of Hooker, born in Kent in 1563, was the eldest son of Thomas Cranmer by his wife Anne Carpenter. His father who was registrar of the archdeaconry of Canterbury, was nephew to the archbishop, and son of Edmund Cranmer, archdeacon of Canterbury. One of Edmund Cranmer's daughters married Jervis Walton, and became the mother of Isaac Walton, who was thus first cousin to George Cranmer. At the age of eight he was sent to Merchant Taylors' School, and thence in January 1577 (or, according to other accounts, in December 1579) to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he entered simultaneously with Sir Edwyn Sandys, and with him was placed under the tuition of Richard Hooker, the divine. Between the tutor and his two pupils there grew up a firm friendship, which continued long after they had separated on leaving Oxford. Hooker found Cranmer very useful in compiling the ‘Ecclesiastical Polity;’ and Walton, in his ‘Life of Hooker,’ relates, how Sandys and Cranmer went to see their former tutor while he was rector of Drayton Beauchamp, and how, in spite of their mutual pleasure at the reunion, the visitors had to leave after a stay of one night, disgusted with the shrewishness of Mrs. Hooker. At Oxford Cranmer did well, gaining a Merchant Taylors' scholarship in 1581, and being elected a fellow of his college in 1583. It was his father's wish that he should enter the ministry; but Cranmer himself had no inclination in that direction, and was of opinion, as he wrote to his maternal uncle, John Carpenter, that ‘so great a calling ought in no case to be undertaken with a forced minde.’ These words occur in a letter (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1581–90, p. 361) dated 9 Oct. 1586, which Cranmer wrote to his uncle thanking him for having obtained him an appointment in the service of William Davison, the secretary of state. There was already a connection between the two families, Carpenter having married Anne Davison, the statesman's sister. Cranmer remained in this position till his patron fell, when he became secretary to Sir Henry Killigrew, and accompanied him on his embassy to France. Subsequently, Cranmer started on a continental tour with his old college friend Sandys, and remained abroad three years, visiting France, Germany, and Italy. Shortly after his return to England he was chosen by Charles Blount, lord Mountjoy, to accompany him in the capacity of secretary to Ireland, whither he was going to replace Essex. The appointment held the promise of better things, but Cranmer did not live to enjoy its fruits, for in the following year (16 July 1600) he was killed in a skirmish with the Irish rebels at Carlingford.

Contemporary writers all agree in declar- ring Cranmer to have been a man of great learning and singular promise. According to Tanner and Wood (who cites information given him by Walton as his authority), he wrote to a considerable extent, but with the exception of two or three private letters, nothing of his composition remains but his celebrated letter to Hooker ‘Concerning the new Church Discipline.’ This letter, which was written in February 1598, was first published in 1642, and in 1670 was inserted in the folio edition of Hooker's works. It is quite impossible that Cranmer could have been, as stated by Wood and Strype (Life of Parker, i. 529, ed. 1821), the author of a letter to the bishop of Winchester requesting him to purge New College and Winchester School of papists. Cranmer, at the time that this letter was written, was not more than five years of age.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), i. 700; Robinson's Register of Merchant Taylors' School, i. 17; Tanner's Bibl. Brit.; Walton's Life of Hooker (ed. Bohn), 1884, pp. 180, 187; Gent. Mag. November 1792.]

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