Honywood, Michael (DNB00)
|←Honywood, Mary||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 27
HONYWOOD, MICHAEL, D.D. (1597–1681), dean of Lincoln, born in 1597, was sixth son and ninth child of Robert Honywood, esq., of Charing, Kent, and of Marks Hall, Essex, by his second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Browne of Betchworth Castle, Surrey. Mary Honywood [q. v.] was his grandmother. He was educated at Christ's College, Cambridge, and graduated B.A. in January 1614–15, M.A. 1618, B.D. 1636,and D.D. (by royal mandate) 1661. He became fellow of his college, and served the university offices of taxor in 1623, and of proctor in 1628. At Christ's he had as brother fellows Henry More the Platonist, Joseph Mede, and Edward King, the 'Lycidas' of Milton. Dr. Thomas Bainbridge was master, and from 1625 to 1632 Milton was a student. Honywood took an active part in the management of the society, and helped forward the erection of the 'new fellows' buildings,' completed in 1644, by advancing money, which was not repaid till 27 Aug. 1649. In a characteristic entry in his handwriting in the college accounts on 16 Jan. 1644–5 he laments the delay in the repayment.
In 1640 Honywoood was appointed to the lucrative college living of Kegworth, Leicestershire, but he did not reside there, and when the civil war threatened Cambridge at the beginning of 1642 he crossed to the Low Countries. During the protectorate he resided at Utrecht, enjoying the friendship of Sancroft and devoting himself to the collection of books. In 1643 Dr. Bainbridge ineffectually wrote to him urging him to return, and not to exceed the statutable limit of absence, which would defeat his wish that he should succeed him as master. In 1645 Honywood was still abroad. In spite of Bainbridge's protest and pleas for delay, the parliamentary commissioners for Leicestershire sequestered Honywood's living of Kegworth, and a new rector was appointed in 1649.
At the Restoration Honywood returned to England, and resumed his living of Kegworth (Kennett, Register, p. 231). The sectaries in his parish gave him some trouble. In 1667 a quaker, one Richard Gibson, obstinately refused to pay his tithes, was thrown into prison, and was detained there several years at Honywood's suit. Honywood gave 20l to the repair of the 'much decayed' school house (Nichols, Leicestershire, vol. iii. pt. ii. pp. 851, 856 ). Some of the fellows of Christ's College vainly petitioned that he might be appointed master, at a time when Dr. Ralph Cudworth [q. v.] held the post. On 12 Oct. 1660 he was installed dean of Lincoln, retaining Kegworth in commendam to his death.
Honywood as dean set vigorously to work to repair the damage done to Lincoln Cathedral and its precincts during the reign of the puritans, and to re-establish the long-suspended choral service, aiding both liberally from his own purse. In October and November 1666 he was in search of duly qualified voices for his choir, and was corresponding on the subject with Sancroft, then dean of St. Paul's, and Thorndike. The rebuilding of the ruined houses of the vicars choral, and the education of the singing boys, also occupied his attention. He earnestly defended the long-suspended rights of the dean and chapter and reasserted the franchises of the close. His chief work in connection with his cathedral was the enaction at his own cost for 780l. of the library, from the designs of Sir Christopher Wren, on the site of the long-ruined north walk of the cloister. In this building he placed his collection of books, which he presented to the chapter. The collection contains an invaluable series of rare seventeenth-century tracts, including the first issue of Milton's 'Lycidas,' his Tetrachordon,' and 'Smectymnuus.' But the early printed books of Caxton, Wynkyn de Worde, &c., which originally formed part of Honywood's library, were sold by the chapter at the suggestion of Dr. Dibdin (cf. his Bibliographical Decameron, iii. 261 , and his Lincolne Nosegaie, and the large sum realised by their sale was expended on the purchase of books of reference. Honywood's own books are distinguished by the monogram H. Besides Sancroft and Thorndike, Honywood's friends included Bishops Henchman and Morley, and Pepys. The latter spoke of him as 'a good-natured but very weak man,' 'a simple priest, though a good well-meaning man, yet a dean and a man in great esteem' (Diary, 29 June, 6 Aug. 1664). Dr. Crackenthorpe [q. v.], another friend, gratefully records help received from him in his work on logic (cf. an autograph letter in a presentation copy of the book in Lincoln Cathedral Library). Honywell died unmarried at his deanery on 7 Dec. 1681, aged 85. Walker describes him as 'a holy and humble man, and a living library for learning.' He gave 100l. towards the rebuilding of St. Paul's Cathedral.[Dibdin's Bibl. Decam. iii. 261; Nichols's Leicestershire, vol. iii. pt. ii. pp. 851, 856; Kennett, Lansdowne MS. 257 No. 14, p. 21; Kennett's Register, p. 237; Proceedings of Cambr. Ant. Soc. ii. 155; Walker's Sufferings of the Clergy; Pepys's Diary, 11. cc.]