Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 13.djvu/25

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ring Cranmer to have been a man of great learning and singular promise. According to Tanner and Wood (who cites information given him by Walton as his authority), he wrote to a considerable extent, but with the exception of two or three private letters, nothing of his composition remains but his celebrated letter to Hooker ‘Concerning the new Church Discipline.’ This letter, which was written in February 1598, was first published in 1642, and in 1670 was inserted in the folio edition of Hooker's works. It is quite impossible that Cranmer could have been, as stated by Wood and Strype (Life of Parker, i. 529, ed. 1821), the author of a letter to the bishop of Winchester requesting him to purge New College and Winchester School of papists. Cranmer, at the time that this letter was written, was not more than five years of age.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), i. 700; Robinson's Register of Merchant Taylors' School, i. 17; Tanner's Bibl. Brit.; Walton's Life of Hooker (ed. Bohn), 1884, pp. 180, 187; Gent. Mag. November 1792.]

A. V.

CRANMER, THOMAS (1489–1556), archbishop of Canterbury, was born at Aslacton in Nottinghamshire 2 July 1489. He came of an old family, originally of Lincolnshire, but for some generations settled in the county of his birth. His father, who bore the same christian name as himself, put him to school ‘with a marvellous severe and cruel schoolmaster,’ who is also described as ‘a rude parish clerk.’ His father really desired to give him some knowledge of letters, but was no less anxious that he should be skilled in such gentlemanlike exercises as shooting, hunting, and hawking. Owing to his physical training he was able when archbishop to ride the roughest horse as well as any of his household. But the care of his later education fell upon his mother, Agnes, daughter of Laurence Hatfield of Willoughby, who being left a widow sent him to Cambridge when he was fourteen. There he remained eight years studying philosophy and logic, but afterwards gave himself to the reading of Erasmus and the classics. He took the degree of B.A. in 1511–12, and that of M.A. in 1515. He became fellow of Jesus, but soon lost his fellowship by marriage, notwithstanding that, to prevent interruption of his university career, he had placed his wife at the Dolphin Inn at Cambridge, she being related to the good wife there. His visits to the inn were observed, and in after years, when he was archbishop, it was said that he had been an ostler or innkeeper (Foxe, viii. 4, 5; Nichols, Narratives of the Reformation, p. 269; Calendar, Henry VIII, vol. vii. No. 559). He was, however, appointed common reader at Buckingham (now Magdalene) College, and when a year after his marriage his wife died in childbirth, the master and fellows of Jesus re-elected him to a fellowship. He proceeded D.D. at Cambridge, and although solicited to become one of the foundation fellows of Wolsey's new college at Oxford he declined to leave the society which had shown him so great favour. He was admitted reader of a newly founded divinity lecture in Jesus College, and was chosen by the university one of the public examiners in theology.

In the summer of 1529 Cambridge was visited by a pestilence, and Cranmer removed with two scholars, the sons of a Mr. Cressy of Waltham Abbey, to the house of their father, whose wife was a relation of his own. At this time Henry VIII's suit for a divorce had begun before Cardinals Wolsey and Campeggio in England, but the court had been prorogued, and every one knew that the cause would be removed to Rome in consequence of the queen's appeal. In great perplexity the king removed from Greenwich to Waltham with the two cardinals in his company. The two chief agents in the divorce, his secretary, Gardiner, and his almoner, Dr. Fox, went to Waltham and were lodged by the harbingers in Cressy's house while Cranmer was there. The three being old college friends naturally got into conversation on the chief topic of the day; and Cranmer gave an opinion as to the best mode of satisfying the king without the long delay that would be required to pursue the cause through all its stages at Rome. The king only wanted sufficient assurance of the invalidity of his first marriage, notwithstanding the dispensation, and he might then take the responsibility of marrying again at once. He ought therefore to take the opinions of divines at the universities, and act accordingly. This advice was reported by Foxe to the king two days after, and Cranmer was summoned to the royal presence at Greenwich. The king, who was greatly pleased, desired him to write his own mind on the subject, and recommended him to the Earl of Wiltshire, Anne Boleyn's father, into whose household at Durham Place he was accordingly received. In obedience to the king's command he wrote a treatise, with which, being commissioned as it is said to go down and dispute the matter at Cambridge, he in one day persuaded six or seven learned men there to take the king's part. It can hardly be, as Morice relates, that he had a joint commission with Gardiner and Foxe for this purpose; for it appears that Gardiner only went to Cambridge about it in February