Day, William (1529-1596) (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

DAY, WILLIAM (1529–1596), bishop of Winchester, the younger brother of George Day, bishop of Chichester [q. v.], was the son of Richard Day of Newport, Shropshire. He was born in 1529, his elder brother having been chosen public orator of the university of Cambridge the previous year. From his brother's position as provost of King's College the younger Day naturally was sent for education to Eton College, whence he proceeded to King's College, where he was admitted scholar in his sixteenth year, 14 Aug. 1545, and fellow 15 Aug. 1548. He took the degree of B.A. in 1549, and of M.A. in 1553. He appears to have embraced the doctrines of the reformation at an early age, which caused a serious breach between him and his brother. Strype records that while still a scholar of the college he made application to his brother for ‘a little money to buy him some books and other necessaries he stood in need of at that time. The request was sharply refused on the ground that he held it not fit to relieve those that were not of the true church’ (Strype, Cranmer, bk. ii. ch. xx. p. 232). A tacit acquiescence in the dominant faith appears to have enabled him to retain his fellowship during Queen Mary's reign, and on the visitation of the university under Cardinal Pole's authority in 1556–7, his brother having died in the previous August, on the eve of the Epiphany, 5 Jan., he appears to have entertained ‘all the thirteen seniors’ at dinner in his chamber at King's College, and to have filled the part of ‘Christmas king’ (Lamb, Original Documents, p. 197). The next year he served the office of proctor, and the following year seems to have resigned his fellowship. His theological bias would be a necessary bar to his taking holy orders till the change of religion consequent on the accession of Elizabeth. He was ordained deacon by Grindal, then bishop of London, four months after the commencement of the new reign, 24 March 1559, and priest by Davies, bishop of St. Asaph, acting for Grindal, in 1560 (Strype, Grindal, pp. 55, 58). Day's fortunes were now in the ascendant, and preferments were rapidly heaped upon him. In the same year he was made fellow of Eton, and was appointed by royal letters patent, dated 6 Oct. 1560, to the prebend of Ampleforth in York Minster, and a few months later, 1 Jan. 1561, received the archdeaconry of Nottingham (Rymer, xv. 563). At the close of the following year he was nominated by the queen to the provostship of Eton, vacant by the death of Dr. Bill [q. v.], who had held the office, together with the deanery of Westminster. Provost Bill had died 15 July 1561. A week later the fellows who generally favoured the old religion ‘boldly disregarding the queen's prerogative,’ elected Richard Bruerne [q. v.] to the provostship, although he had been compelled to resign his professorship at Oxford on the charge of gross immorality, and his sympathies were known to be largely in favour of Romish doctrines. He was forced to resign, and Parker sent in to the queen three names, including that of Nowell, for the vacant post. Cecil desired a wider field of choice, and applied to Grindal, who furnished him with no less than fourteen names, designating as specially worthy of the office four married men, of whom again Nowell was one, and five celibates, including Cheyney, afterwards bishop of Gloucester [q. v.], Calfhill [q. v.], and Day himself. The queen's choice fell on Day, who was elected by the fellows 18 Oct. 1561, and formally admitted 5 Jan. 1562. If his celibacy had influenced the royal choice, Day lost little time in depriving himself of this merit by his marriage with Elizabeth, one of the five daughters of Bishop Barlow of Chichester [q. v.], all of whom had bishops for their husbands. In 1562 he took the degree of B.D., and in January of the following year he preached the Latin sermon at the opening of convocation on 1 Pet. v. 2 ‘in a fine style.’ The occasion was a very important one. It was the first convocation held since the accession of the queen had restored the reformed religion to its former place. Day at once ranged himself on the side of the puritan and Calvinistic minority, giving a decided support to the violent and revolutionary measures proposed, which, if carried into effect, would have destroyed the claims of the church of England to be regarded as a portion of the catholic church. In company with Nowell, Sampson, and other ultra-protestants, Day signed the memorial for the abolition of saints' days and holidays, and the prohibition of the sign of the cross in baptism, the chanting of the psalms and the employment of organs, the wearing of the cope and surplice, and every other distinctly ministerial habit; while kneeling at the holy communion was left optional with the worshipper, and nearly every primitive custom of the church was discarded (Strype, Parker, i. i. 240; Annals, i. i. 472, 500–4). He was also among those who signed the ‘Petition for Discipline,’ which proposed the removal of the questions and answers in the baptismal service, and demanded that all communicants should at the time of communion express their ‘detestation and renunciation of the idolatrous mass’ (ib. 508–12). Day's puritanical spirit was displayed during the first year of his provostship in the destruction of all traces of the unreformed faith in the chapel of Eton College. He broke down the images and plastered up the niches in which they had stood, pulled down a tabernacle in the body of the church, whitewashed the pictured walls, and demolished the rood-screen, the size and magnificence of which may be gathered from the fact that its destruction occupied three weeks. He is charged also with having alienated or surrendered some of the college plate, and reduced the number of chaplains from six to four (Audit Book of Eton College, 1569–70; Lyte, Hist. of Eton College, p. 174). In 1563 Day got into trouble with De Foix, the French ambassador, who, being placed under some show of restraint in retaliation for the French king's similar treatment of Sir Nicholas Throgmorton, had had rooms assigned to him in Eton College. De Foix resented the strictness of college discipline, and when on 30 Dec. the keys were refused him for the exit of a couple of guests after the closing of the gates, he burst into the provost's chamber sword in hand and required their instant surrender. This demand Day found it politic to comply with, contenting himself with making a formal complaint to Cecil of this conduct and of the dissolute behaviour of the ambassador's retinue, of whose misdeeds a long and revolting catalogue is given in the ‘State Papers.’ De Foix was ordered to change his quarters (Strype, Annals, i. ii. 94–7; State Papers, Foreign, Eliz. lxvii. 3; Lyte, 176–80). Fresh preferments testified to the continued goodwill of the court and Day's favour with the queen. In 1563 he was appointed canon of Windsor. In 1565 he was chosen one of the Lent preachers before the queen (Strype, Parker, iii. 135), and on 29 Aug. 1569 he was presented to the rectory of Lavenham, Suffolk, by the queen; in June 1572 he was appointed dean of the Chapel Royal, and in the same year he added to his other preferments the deanery of Windsor (Rymer, xv. 708), which he held with his provostship until he was advanced to the episcopate, retaining also to the same date the rich living of Hambleden, Buckinghamshire. He also in 1584 was elected registrar of the order of the Garter, having for several years fulfilled the duties of the office without formal admission. His minor preferments received their last addition by his collation on 2 Nov. 1587 to the chancellorship of St. Paul's Cathedral by the prerogative of Archbishop Whitgift. When convocation met in 1580, Day was ultimately chosen prolocutor (Heylyn, Hist. of Presbyt. bk. vii. ch. 21). In that same year he was one of the ‘able protestant divines’ appointed to dispute publicly with Edmund Campion [q. v.], the jesuit, in the chapel of the Tower shortly before his execution (Strype, Annals, ii. ii. 361), an office which in 1582 was extended to jesuits and Romish priests generally ({{sc|Strype}, Whitgift, i. 198). As dean of Windsor he prohibited the public catechising of children in some of the churches of which he was ordinary, an exercise of authority which met with the disapprobation of Burghley (Calendar of State Papers, 1 July 1584). He held the provostship of Eton for thirty-four years, his vice-provost at one time being his brother-in-law, William Wickham, who had married Mrs. Day's sister, Antonina, one of the five daughters of Bishop Barlow, his immediate predecessor in the see of Winchester. Day's freedom from ecclesiastical prejudice is shown by his frequently selecting laymen as headmasters of the school. The scholarship and discipline of the college maintained its high reputation during his rule, which seems to have united firmness and gravity with kindliness. Harington, who was a scholar at Eton in his time, calls him ‘our good old provost,’ and describes him as ‘a man of good nature, affable, and courteous, and at his table and in other conversation pleasant, yet always sufficiently containing his gravity’ (State of the Church, p. 69). The same writer adds ‘that he had a good and familiar fashion of preaching … apt to edify and easy to remember’ (ib.) A man who had filled so many high ecclesiastical dignities, and was ‘noted for learning and piety,’ was a natural candidate for the episcopate; but though repeatedly recommended for vacant sees his attainment of a bishopric was deferred to the closing months of his life. He had been recommended by Dr. Overton as his father-in-law's successor in the see of Chichester, as the best fitted to resist the encroachments of the Romish church, ‘since everywhere all was in a manner full of papists and popism’ (Strype, Parker, i. 537), and in 1570, on Grindal's elevation to the archbishopric of York, he had been named for London by Parker himself, who wrote of him to Cecil as ‘in all respects the meetest for that room’ (ib. i. 537, ii. 6), and his claims were again urged by Whitgift in 1584, when many sees were waiting for occupants (Strype, Whitgift, i. 327). The long-looked-for elevation came at last, and on the death of his brother-in-law, Wickham, after less than three months' tenure of the dignity, Day was appointed to the see of Winchester, being elected 3 Nov. 1595, and consecrated at Lambeth by Whitgift 25 Jan. 1596. Day's episcopate did not much exceed in length that of his predecessor. He died 20 Sept. of the same year, eight months after his consecration. He only assisted at one episcopal consecration, that of Thomas Bilson [q. v.], afterwards his successor, to the see of Worcester 13 June 1596. From his will, dated 11 Sept. 1596, we learn that by his wife, Elizabeth Barlow, who survived him, he left two sons, William and Richard, and four daughters, Susan Cox, Rachel Barker, Elizabeth, and a Mrs. Ridley, whose christian name is not specified.

Day's contributions to literature were of the scantiest. The following are enumerated in Cooper's ‘Athenæ Cantab.:’ 1. ‘Latin Verses in the University Collection on the Restitution of Bucer and Fagius,’ 1560. 2. ‘Conference with Campion.’ 3. ‘Sermons on 1 Cor. xvi. 12, 13, publicly preached in York Minster’ (in Cambr. Univ. Libr. MS.) 4. 'Manuscript Notes of two Sermons at St. Paul's Cross,' Tanner MS. 50, ff. 39, 50.

[Cooper's Athenæ Cantab, ii. 219,548; Strype's Annals, Cranmer, Parker, Grindal, Whitgift, Aylmer; Le Neve's Fasti, ii. 361, iii. 18, 152, 169, 343, 374, 396, 618; Rymer, xv. 543, 563, 708; Harington's Nugæ Antiquæ, i. 76; State Papers, Dom. 1584, Foreign 1564; Lyte's History of Eton College, 173-86; Zurich Letters, ii. 263, 270.]

E. V.