Donne, Gabriel (DNB00)

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DONNE or DUNNE, GABRIEL (d. 1558), a Cistercian monk, belonged to the family of that name seated at Ralph Donue in Devonshire. He was admitted a member of St. Bernard's College, Oxford, a house for student monks of his order, and proceeded M.A. He afterwards entered the Cistercian house of Stratford Langthorne, Essex. A suit, followed by an appeal to Rome, between the abbot and convent and William Shragger, the vicar of West Ham, arose, and on 7 Feb. 1517 a 'composition real' between the abbot and the vicar was executed, 'the provident and religious man Gabriel Donne' acting as proctor for the brethren. On 26 Oct. 1521 he presented himself before his university as a supplicant for the degree of B.D., but was apparently not admitted (Reg. of the Univ. of Oxford, Oxf. Hist. Soc. i. 121). He was a student, pretended or real, at Louvain in 1535, went thence to Antwerp in the disguise of a servant to Henry Philips, and there planned with the latter the treacherous arrest of William Tyndale, which took place at that city on 23 or 24 May in the same year. He assisted in preparing the case against Tyndale. On his return to England he obtained by the influence of Cromwell, then secretary of state, the richly endowed abbacy of the house of his order at Buckfastleigh in his native Devonshire, at that time in the patronage of Vesey, bishop of Exeter, a bitter persecutor of the reformers. He appeared as abbot of that house in the convocation of June 1536, and subscribed the articles then agreed upon. Within two years of his election he alienated much of the monastic property, and on 25 Feb. 1538-9, despite the solemn oaths he had taken, he, with nine others of his religious, surrendered his abbey into the hands of Henry VIII. On the following 26 April he was rewarded with the large pension of 120l.,equal to 1,800l. of our money, which he enjoyed till his death. The site of the abbey was granted by the king to Sir Thomas Dennys, knight, of Holcombe Burnell in the same county, who had married Donne's sister Elizabeth (Oliver, Monasticon Diœcesis Exoniensis, p. 372). Donne became prebendary of Mapesbury in St. Paul's Cathedral on 16 March 1540-1 (Le Neve, Fasti, ed. Hardy, ii. 408), and was instituted to the sinecure rectory of Stepney, Middlesex, 25 Oct. 1544 (Newcourt, Repertorium, i. 739). On the deprivation of Bonner, bishop of London, in September 1549, Donne, then one of the canons residentiary of St. Paul's, was appointed by Archbishop Cranmer to be his official and keeper of the spiritualities, to exercise all manner of episcopal jurisdiction in the city and diocese of London (Strype, Memorials of Cranmer, 8vo edit., i. 274), which office he continued to fill until Ridley became bishop in April 1550. In making such an appointment Cranmer was probably acting to his own advantage, for he had all along been kept well informed of the part Donne had taken in the betrayal of Tyndale (see letter of Thomas Tebolde to the archbishop, dated 31 July 1535, in 'Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry VIII,' Cal. State Papers, viii. 1151). Donne died on 5 Dec. 1558 and was buried on the 9th of that month in St. Paul's, near the high altar (mon. inscr. in Dugdale, St. Paul's Cathedral, ed. Ellis, p. 46; Strype, Annals, 8vo edit., vol. i. pt. i. p. 45). His will, dated 5 Feb. 1557-8, with a codicil dated 5 Dec. 1558, was proved on 14 Dec. 1558 (reg. in P. C. C. 59, Mellerche, and 16, Welles). It there appears that he owned the rich advowson of Grantham Church, Lincolnshire. He gave 'to the late Barnard Colledge in Oxforde soche nomber of my bookes as myne executors shall thinke god.' 'The residue of my goodds and chattells (yf any shalbe) I require myne executors to bestowe at theire discretions to the advauncemente of poore maidens mariages, releef of scolleres and students, specially to soche as myne executors shall thinke metest as shalbe towarde lerninge disposed to be preestes and ministers of Christis Churche.' One of his executors was Henry Harvey, LL.D., precentor of St. Paul's (1554), and afterwards master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge (1559). At his instance 120l. was received under this bequest by Trinity Hall, 'which was applied to the foundation of a scholarship, and the establishment of an annual commemoration of the deceased, with a refection on the feast of St. Nicholas the bishop.' Donne has on this account been wrongly described as a member of Trinity Hall.

[Cooper's Athenæ Cantab, i. 186-7, and authorities cited; Walter's Biog. Introd. to Tyndale's Doctrinal Treatises (Parker Soc.), p. lxix; Foxe's Life of Tyndale prefixed to Day's edition of his Works; Transactions of Devonshire Association, viii. 863-5; wills of Sir John and Lady Elizabeth Dennys, registered respectively in P. C. C. 20 and 26, Loftes.]

G. G.