Downham, John (DNB00)
|←Downham, George||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 15
DOWNHAM or DOWNAME, JOHN (d. 1652), puritan divine, younger son of William Downham, bishop of Chester [q. v.], was born in Chester. He received his education at Christ's College, Cambridge, as a member of which he subsequently proceeded B.D. On 4 Aug. 1599 he was instituted to the vicarage of St. Olave, Jewry (Newcourt, Repertorium, i. 515), which he exchanged, 5 March 1601, for the rectory of St. Margaret, Lothbury, then lately vacated by his brother George [q. v.], but resigned in June 1618 (ib. i. 402). He would seem to have lived unbeneficed until 30 Nov. 1630, when he became rector of Allhallows the Great, Thames Street (ib. i. 249), which living he held till his death. He was the first, says Fuller, who preached the Tuesday lectures in St. Bartholomew's Church behind the Exchange, which he did with great reputation (Worthies, 1662, 'Chester,' p. 191). In 1640 he united with the puritan ministers of the city in presenting their petition to the privy council against Laud's oppressive book of canons (Brook, Puritans, ii. 496-7); in 1643 he was appointed one of the licensers of the press, an office he does not appear to have found very comfortable (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1649–50, pp. 46, 59, 501); and in 1644 he was chosen one of the London ministers to examine and ordain public preachers. The authorities, headed by Fuller (loc. cit.), wrongly assign Downham's death to the last-named year, 1644. He died at his house at Bunhill, in the parish of St. Giles without Cripplegate, London, in the autumn of 1652 (Probate Act Book, P. C. C., 1652), and desired 'to be buryed in the grounde at my pew doore in the chancell of the parish church of Great Allhallowes in Thames Streete.' His will, dated 26 Feb. 1651-2, with memorandum dated the following 22 June, was proved in P. C. C. 13 Sept. of that year (registered 187, Bowyer). He married, after August 1623, Catherine, widow of Thomas Sutton, D.D., and daughter of Francis Little, brewer and inn-holder, of Abington, Cambridgeshire (Wood, Athenae Oxon., ed. Bliss, ii. 338-9, 814), who survived him. He had issue three sons, William, Francis, and George. Of his daughters he mentions Mrs. George Staunton, Mrs. Sarah Warde, Mrs. Jael Harrison, and Mrs. Elizabeth Kempe. Downham's son George died before him, leaving issue Nathaniel, Katherine, Elizabeth, and Mary. Downham published Sutton's 'Lectures upon the Eleventh Chapter to the Romans,' 4to, London, 1632. In the preface he promised other works from the same pen, including lectures on Romans xii. and on the greater part of Psalm cxix., which did not receive sufficient encouragement. He also edited his brother's 'Treatise of Prayer,' 4to, London, 1640, the third impression of J. Heydon's 'Mans Badnes and Gods Goodnes,' 12mo, London, 1647, and Archbishop Ussher's 'Body of Divinitie,' fol. London, 1647. With other divines he wrote 'Annotations upon all the Books of the Old and New Testament,' fol. London, 1645. His separate writings comprise: 1. 'Spiritual Physick to Cure the Diseases of the Soul, arising from Superfluitie of Choller, prescribed out of God's Word,' 8vo, London, 1600. 2. 'Lecture on the First Four Chapters of Hosea,' 4to, London, 1608. 3. 'The Christian Warfare,' 4 parts, 4to, London, 1609-18. This, his best-known work, reached a fourth edition, 4 parts, fol. London, 1634, 33. 4. 'Foure Treatises tending to disswade all Christians from the Abuses of Swearing, Drunkennesse, Whoredome, and Bribery, . . . Whereunto is annexed a Treatise of Anger,' 2 parts, 4to, London, 1613. 5. 'The Plea of the Poore. Or a Treatise of Beneficence and Almes-deeds: teaching how these Christian duties are rightly to be performed,' 4to, London, 1616. 6. 'Guide to Godliness, or a Treatise of a Christian Life,' fol. London, 1622. 7. The Summe of Sacred Divinitie Briefly and Methodically Propounded, . . . more largely and cleerly handled,' 8vo, London (1630?). 8. 'A Brief Concordance to the Bible, . . . alphabetically digested, and allowed by authority to be printed and bound with the Bible in all volumes,' 12mo, London, 1631. Of this useful compilation ten editions in all sizes were published during the author's lifetime. 9. 'A Treatise against Lying,' 4to, London, 1636. 10. 'A Treatise tending to direct the Weak Christian how he may rightly Celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper,' 8vo, London, 1645.[Authorities cited in the text; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Watt's Bibl. Brit.; Lowndes's Bibl. Manual (Bohn).]
DOWNHAM, WILLIAM, whose name is sometimes spelt Downame and Downman (1505–1577), bishop of Chester, was born in Norfolk in 1505. He took his degree of B.A. at Oxford 4 Feb. 1541 as chaplain of Magdalen. He proceeded M.A. 6 June 1543, and on 25 July following was elected fellow of Magdalen. He supplicated for the degrees of B.D. and D.D. 13 July 1562, but was admitted to neither degree till 30 Oct. 1566, when he and four other bishops had the doctor's degree conferred on them in London by commission from the queen. He had been chaplain to the Princess Elizabeth, and after her accession to the throne he was appointed archdeacon of Brecknock in 1559 and canon of Westminster 21 June 1560. On 4 May in the following year he was consecrated bishop of Chester, but the canonry was not filled till 1564.
He seems to have disappointed the queen's expectations of him in not being active in enforcing the Act of Uniformity and in hunting down popish recusants; for in the first year of his episcopate a complaint was lodged against him before the council, which was referred to the Archbishop of Canterbury (Parker) and the bishops of Winchester (Horne), Ely (Cox), and Worcester (Bullingham) for their investigation. There is extant in the Record Office a letter from them to the council, dated 19 Feb. 1561, thanking the council for allowing the case to be tried by them. And there is also a schedule containing the names of more than fifty recusants signed by Grindal, bishop of London, Cox of Ely, and Downham of Chester, to which is appended a list of those who had eluded arrest, and of others imprisoned by their order in the Fleet, the Marshalsea, the Counter, Poultry, the Counter, Wood Street, and the king's bench. On 12 Nov. 1570 he was again summoned for remissness, and on 14 Jan. Parker was again directed to inquire into the matter (Council