Harpsfield, John (DNB00)
|←Harper, William (1806-1857)||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 24
HARPSFIELD or HARPESFELD, JOHN, D.D. (1516–1578), chaplain to Bishop Bonner, was born in Old Fish Street, in the parish of St. Mary Magdalen, London, in 1516, being son of John Harpesfeld, citizen and draper. He was sent to Winchester College in 1528, and was admitted a fellow of New College, Oxford, 14 Nov. 1534. He proceeded B.A. 27 Feb. 1536-7, commenced M.A. 3 Aug. 1538, and was admitted D.D. 16 July 1554. After taking holy orders he became chaplain to Bon-ner, bishop of London, and vacated his fellowship about 1551. Soon after the accession of Queen Mary he was appointed one of the preachers at St. Paul's Cross. At the opening of convocation in 1553 he preached a sermon to the clergy assembled in St. Paul's Cathedral, and described in very uncomplimentary terms the character of the reformed ministers in King Edward's reign (Strype, Cranmer, pp. 322, 323 folio). On 1 Dec. 1553 he again preached in St. Paul's, and afterwards there was a procession 'with the old Latin form' (Strype, Memorials, iii. 51, folio). On 27 April 1554 he was collated to the archdeaconry of London, and in that capacity he, like his patron Bonner, showed great zeal in the persecution of the reformers, and this, observes Wood, was the reason why he 'fared the worse for it upon the change of religion.' He was one of the divines sent to Oxford to dispute with Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer. On 4 May 1554 he was collated to the benefice of St. Martin, Ludgate, and on the 26th to the prebend of Holborn in the cathedral church of St. Paul. On 29 July in the same year he preached at St. Paul's Cross, and he 'prayed in his beads for the king and the queen' (ib. iii. 128). In the following month he made an oration in Latin to Philip on his majesty visiting St. Paul's. On 14 Nov. the same year he preached at St. Paul's Cross, where five persons did penance with sheets about them and tapers and rods in their hands, and 'the preacher did strike them with a rod, and there they stood till the sermon was done' (ib. iii. 203). After the news was received of the capture of St. Quentin there was a great procession to St. Paul's on 15 Aug. 1557, and Harpesfeld delivered a sermon at the cross in the presence of the lord mayor and aldermen.
On 14 May 1558 he was collated to the benefice of Laindon, Essex, which was vacant by the resignation of his brother, Nicholas Harpesfeld [q. v.] (Newcourt, Repertorium Eccl. ii. 356). Two days afterwards he was presented to the deanery of Norwich, being installed on 9 June (Le Neve, Fasti, ed. Hardy, ii. 476; Blomefield, Norfolk, iii. 619). On 10 Dec. 1558 he was collated to the prebend of Maplesbury in the cathedral church of St. Paul.
At the beginning of Elizabeth's reign he was rebuked for a sermon he had preached in Canterbury Cathedral against any change in religion, and he took a prominent part in the proceedings of the lower house of convocation (January 1558-9), the members of which presented an address to the queen containing five articles directed against the contemplated reformation. Shortly afterwards Harpesfeld was deprived of all his preferments. He was committed prisoner to the Fleet, but after about a year's confinement was released on giving security that he would not speak nor write against the doctrines of the established church. He found an asylum in the house of a near relative in the parish of St. Sepulchre, where he t spent the remainder of his days in great retiredness and devotion.' In June 1578 he applied to the lord treasurer Burghley for leave to go to Bath in his extremity, being 1 overwhelmed with hurts and maladies' (Lansdowne MS. 27, f. 64). He died in London on 19 Aug. 1578, and was probably buried in the parish church of St. Sepulchre (Academy, ix. 360). On 5 Dec. in that year letters of administration were taken out by Anne Worsopp, his nearest relative. It was probably at her house that he resided. She was the widow of John Worsopp, gentleman, and daughter of Richard Baron, citizen and mercer of London, by his wife, Alice Harpesfeld.
Wood describes him as a 'grand zealot for the Roman catholic religion,' and Bale, who relates a scandalous story about him, calls him Dr. Sweetlips, from his smooth words and fair discourse. His works are : 1. 'Concio quædam habita coram Patribus et Clero in Ecclesia Paulina Londini, 26 Octobris 1553, in Act. cap. 20, 28,' London, 1553, 16mo. 2. Disputations and epistles for the degree of doctor of divinity, 19 April 1554. In Foxe's 'Acts and Monuments.' Archbishop Cranmer took part in these disputations. 3. Disputes, examinations, letters, &c. In Foxe's 'Acts and Monuments.' 4. Homilies on the following subjects : (a) 'Of the creation and fall of Man;' (b) 'Of the misery of all mankynde and of hys condempnation to death ; ' (c) 'Of the redemption of Man ;' (d) 'Howe the redemption in Chryst is apliable to Man ;' (e) 'Howe daungerous athinge the breake of Charitie is ;' (f) 'Of the Supremacy ;' (g) 'Of the true presence of Chrystes body & blud in the Sacrament of the Aultare ;' (h) 'Of transsubstantiation,' These are printed in 'A profitable & necessarye Doctrine, with certayne Homelies adjoyned thereunto, set forth by ... Edmonde [Bonner], Byshop of London, for the instruction and enformation of people beynge within his Diocese,' London, 1555, 4to. 5. 'A notable and learned Sermon or Homelie vpon St. Andre wes day last past 1556, in the Cathedral Church of S. Paul in London,' London, 1556, 16mo. 6. 'Chronicon Johannis Harpesfeldi a diluvio ad annum 1559.' In Cotton. MS. Vitell. C. ix. ff. 161-88. 7. 'Versus elegiaci, ex centuriis summatim comprehensi, de Historia Ecclesiastica Anglorum.' Cotton. MS. Vitell. C. ix. tf. 188 b-99. This and the previous work are in the author's autograph. 8. 'Simplicii cinnebtaruys in primum Aristotelis physicorum librum.' Royal MS into Latin from the Greek ; dedicated to Henry VIII. 9. A Greek translation of the first book of Virgil's Æneid.' Royal MS. 16 C. viii.
[Ames's Typogr. Antiq. (Herbert), p. 831; Boase's Registrum Univ. Oxon., pp. 187, 325; Bodleian Cat. ii. 251; Bridgewater's Concertatio, f. 404; Casley's Cat. of MSS. pp. 212, 251; Cat. of Cottonian MSS. p. 425; Dodd's Church Hist. ii. 63; Foxe's Acts and Monuments (Townsend); Fuller's Church Hist. (Brewer), iv. 237; Gillow's Bibl. Dict.; Harleian Society's Publications, i. 91; Kennett MS. 47, f. 175; Kirby's Winchester Scholars, p. 115; Le Neve's Fasti, ii. 323, 393, 408, 476; Maitland's Reformation Essays; Newcourt's Repertorium, i. 63, 154, 158, 175, 415. ii. 356; Nichols's Herald and Genealogist, v. 128; Parker Society's Publications (general index); Strype's Works (general index); Tablet, 22 April 1876, p. 536; Wood's Annals (Gutch), i. 125; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), i. 439.]