Higgs, Griffin (DNB00)

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HIGGS, GRIFFIN or GRIFFITH (1589–1659), dean of Lichfield, born in 1589 at South Stoke, Oxfordshire, was the second son of Griffith Higgs, yeoman of that place, by Sarah, daughter of Robert Paine of Caversham in the same county. After attending Reading school he entered St. John's College, Oxford, in 1606, and acquired very high reputation both as an orator and disputant. He graduated B.A. on 26 June 1610 (Wood, Fasti Oxon., ed. Bliss, i. 337), and some time afterwards wrote a life of Sir Thomas White the founder of the college, in Latin verse, which is still preserved in manuscript in the college library. Bound up with it is another manuscript by Higgs, entitled 'A True and Faithfull Relation of the Risinge and Fall of Thomas Tucker, Prince of Alba Fortunata, Lord of St. John's, with all the Occurrents which happened throughout his whole Domination,' an account of the mock ceremonie on choosing a lord of misrule at Christmas (Coxx, Cat. of Oxford MSS. St. John's College, p. 15). Of this narration 250 copies were printed in 1816 by Philip Bliss, under the title 'An account of the Christmas prince: as it was exhibited in the University of Oxford in 1607,' 4to, London. Appended are several extracts from the dramas acted on the occasion. In 1611 Higgs was elected probationer fellow of Merton College, and proceeding M.A. on 27 June 1615 (Wood, Fasti, &c., i. 362), had two small cures successively bestowed on him by the college. He served the office of senior proctor 1622–3 (ib. i. 404) ‘with great courage, tho' of little stature.’ He commenced B.D. on 1 April 1625 (ib. i. 423), and in 1627 went to the Hague as chaplain to Elizabeth, queen of Bohemia, in which capacity he remained for twelve years. His preaching was greatly admired by the queen, who made him several presents, as he mentioned in his will. On 12 Feb. 1629–30 he took his doctor's degree at Leyden, and was incorporated at Oxford on the 27th of that month (ib. i. 452). By Laud's interest he was collated precentor of St. David's on 21 May 1631 (Le Neve, Fasti, ed. Hardy, i. 316), instituted vicar of West Cliffe, Kent, about 1636 (Hasted, Kent, iv. 32), and in 1638 made dean of Lichfield (Le Neve, i. 563), ‘the cathedral of which,’ says Wood, ‘he adorned to his great charge.’ He was also chaplain in ordinary to the king.

When the civil war broke out he lost all his preferments, and retired to South Stoke, but afterwards to Oxford, where he remained until its surrender. For this he was adjudged a delinquent and his estate sequestered. He only obtained a pardon by paying a fine of 480l. on 21 Sept. 1647 (Commons' Journals, v. 310). Higgs died unmarried at South Stoke on 16 Dec. 1659, and was buried in the chancel of the church. By will dated 22 Aug. 1659 (P. C. C. 8, Nabbs) he gave 5l. to the church of South Stoke, and 100l. to buy land for the poor of that town. He also gave 600l. to purchase free land of socage to the value of 30l. a year for the maintenance of a schoolmaster there, the purchase to be made by the warden and fellows of Merton College, who were appointed patrons of the school to be erected at South Stoke. He left 100l. to buy divinity books for the Bodleian Library, and to Merton and St. John's Colleges for the like purpose 50l. apiece. His library, which had been scattered during the war, the greatest portion being kept at Stafford, he left to Merton College, with provision for a librarian's salary of 10l. annually, but the corporation of Stafford successfully resisted the attempts of the college to obtain the books. Higgs likewise gave money to found a divinity lecture at Merton College, and 15l. annually to augment the allowance of the postmasters there.

His other writings are: 1. ‘Problemata Theologica,’ 4to, Leyden, 1630. 2. ‘Miscellaneæ Theses Theologicæ,’ defended by him when he was made D.D., 4to, Leyden, 1630. He left other works in manuscript. He has verses in ‘Ultima Linea Savilii,’ 1622.

The Griffith Higgs of South Stoke whose curious epitaph is printed in ‘Notes and Queries,’ 1st ser. vol. x. p. 266, was Higgs's nephew. He died in 1693, not 1698.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iii. 479–82; Hunter's Chorus Vatum, v. 435 (Addit. MS. 24491).]

G. G.