Isaacson, Henry (DNB00)

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ISAACSON, HENRY (1581–1654), theologian and chronologer, born in the parish of St. Catherine, Coleman Street, London, in September 1581, was the eldest son of Richard Isaacson, by Susan, daughter of Thomas Bryan (Visitation of London, 1633–5, Harl. Soc., ii. 3–4). He appears to have been educated under the care of Bishop Lancelot Andrewes [q. v.], by whom he was sent to Pembroke Hall, Cambridge. Upon leaving college he became an inmate of the bishop's house, and remained with him as his amanuensis and intimate friend until Andrewes's death in 1626. In 1645 he held the office of treasurer of Bridewell and Bedlam (Gent. Mag. 1831, pt. ii. p. 502). Besides handsomely providing for his numerous children, of whom several settled in Cambridgeshire, Isaacson, in imitation of his father, was a benefactor to the poor of the parish of St. Catherine, Coleman Street, where he died on 7 Dec. 1654, and was buried on the 14th (Smyth, Obituary, Camden Soc., p. 39, name misprinted ‘Jackson’). In his will he described himself as ‘citizen and painter-stainer of London’ (P. C. C. 263, Aylett), and bequeathed to Dr. Collins, provost of King's College, Cambridge, a portrait of Bishop Andrewes. By his wife Elizabeth, daughter and sole heiress of John Fan of London, he had nine sons and eight daughters. He was owner of the advowson of Woodford, Essex, to which he presented successively his younger brother William and his eldest son Richard (Wood, Fasti Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 377).

In 1630 appeared a small volume called ‘Institutiones Piæ, or Directions to Pray,’ &c., 12mo, London, collected by ‘H. I.,’ which passed through several editions. Some passages are borrowed from Andrewes's ‘Preces Privatæ,’ and in a preface to the fourth edition (1655) the original publisher, Henry Seile, claimed the whole work for Andrewes, and described Isaacson's relations to the three former editions as that of a kind foster-father then lately dead (cf. Hale's Preface to Institutiones Piæ, ed. 1839).

Isaacson's principal work is a great folio entitled ‘Satvrni Ephemerides, sive Tabvla Historico-Chronologica, containing a Chronological Series … of the foure Monarchyes. … As also a Succession of the Kings and Rulers ouer most Kingdomes and Estates of the World … with a Compend of the History of the Chvrch of God from the Creation … lastly an Appendix of the Plantation and Encrease of Religion in … Britayne,’ &c., London, 1633. It was probably inspired by Andrewes. The lists of authorities fill six pages, and the citations and references are remarkable for their accuracy. Richard Crashaw contributed some pleasing verses in explanation of the curious engraved title-page by W. Marshall (Crashaw, Works, ed. Grosart, i. 246).

Isaacson wrote also ‘An Exact Narrative of the Life and Death of … Lancelot Andrewes,’ 4to, London, 1650, which was incorporated in the following year in Fuller's ‘Abel Redivivus.’ The work treats of Andrewes's mental endowments rather than of the events of his life. An edition published in 1829 by a descendant, Stephen Isaacson [q.v.] , contains a life of the author. To Isaacson may be probably ascribed the devotional manuals issued under the initials of ‘H. I.:’ 1. ‘Jacob's Ladder, consisting of fifteene degrees or ascents to the knowledge of God by the consideration of His creatures and attributes,’ 12mo, London, 1637. The address to the reader is signed ‘H. I.’ 2. ‘A Treaty of Pacification, or Conditions of Peace between God and Man,’ 12mo, London, 1642. 3. ‘A Spirituall Duell between a Christian and Satan,’ &c., 12mo, London, 1646. 4. ‘The Summe and Substance of Christian Religion, set down in a Catechisticall Way,’ 12mo, London, 1647. 5. ‘Divine Contemplations necessary for these Times,’ 12mo, London, 1648. 6. ‘The Scripture Kalendar in use by the Prophets and Apostles and by our Lord Jesus Christ,’ 8vo, London, 1653. Isaacson may likewise have furnished the ‘Address to the Reader by H. I.’ prefixed to R. Sibbes's ‘Breathing after God,’ 12mo, 1639.

[Stephen Isaacson's Life referred to; Gent. Mag. vol. ci. pt. ii. p. 194; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. iv. 286.]

G. G.