Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 19.djvu/64
Erskine's work. Though not so attractive a preacher as the Erskines, nor so able an apologist as Wilson, yet by the weight of his character and his public position he exerted a very powerful influence on the secession, and contributed very materially to its progress and stability. He died 28 Sept. 1775, in the seventy-eighth year of his age.
[Scott's Fasti, pt. iv. 802; Memorials of the Rev. James Fisher, by John Brown, D.D. (United Presbyterian Fathers), 1849; M'Kerrow's Hist. of the Secession; Life and Diary of the Rev. E. Erskine, A.M., by Donald Fraser; Walker's Theology and Theologians of Scotland; McCrie's Story of the Scottish Church.]
FISHER, JASPER (fl. 1639), divine and dramatist, born in 1591, was the son of William Fisher of Carleton, Bedfordshire, deputy-auditor for the county of York (descended from a Warwickshire family), by Alice Roane of Wellingborough (Visitation of Bedfordshire, Harl. Soc. 1884, xix. 107). Fisher matriculated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, 13 Nov. 1607; he was admitted B.A. 28 Jan. 1610-11, M.A. 27 Jan. 1613-14, B.D. and D.D. 1639 (Clark, Register, ii. 300). About 1631 (according to Wood) he became rector of Wilsden, Bedfordshire, and in 1633 published his one considerable work, a play, entitled 'Fuimus Troes, the True Trojans, being a story of the Britaines valour at the Romanes first invasion. Publickly presented by the gentlemen students of Magdalen College in Oxford,' London, 1633, 4to. The drama is written in blank verse, interspersed with lyrics; Druids, poets, and a harper are introduced, and it ends with a masque and chorus. Fisher held at Magdalen College the post of divinity or philosophy reader (Wood). He also published some sermons, one on Malachi ii. 7, 1636, 8vo, and 'The Priest's Duty and Dignity, preached at the Triennial Visitation in Ampthill 18 Aug. 1635, by J. F., presbyter and rector of Wilsden in Bedfordshire, and published by command,' London, 1636, 12mo. The exact date of Fisher's death is uncertain; it is only known that he was alive in 1639, when he proceeded D.D. According to Oldys's manuscript notes to Langbaine he became blind, whether from old age or an accident is not known. Wood calls him 'an ingenious man, as those that knew him have divers times informed me' (Athenæ, ii. 636, ed. Bliss). He married Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev. William Sams of Burstead, Essex. Gideon Fisher, who went to Oxford in 1634 and succeeded to the estate at Carleton, was the son, not of Jasper, but of Jasper's elder brother Gideon (Visitation of Bedfordshire, 1634, Harl. Soc. 107).
[Brit. Mus. Cat. of Printed Books; Langbaine's English Dramatic Poets, 1691, p. 533; Baker's Biographia Dramatica, 1812.]
FISHER, JOHN (1459?-1535), bishop of Rochester, eldest son of Robert Fisher, mercer, and Agnes, his wife, was born at Beverley in Yorkshire, and probably received his earliest education in the school attached to the collegiate church in that city. Considerable discrepancy exists in the statements respecting the year of Fisher's birth (see Life by Lewis, i. 1-2). His portrait by Holbein bears the words, 'A° Aetatis 74.' As this could scarcely have been painted after his imprisonment in the Tower, it would seem that Fisher must have been at least seventy-five at the time of his execution. This, however, requires us to conclude that he was over twenty-six at the time of his admission to the B.A. degree, an unusual age, especially in those days. When only thirteen years old he lost his father; the latter would seem to have been a man of considerable substance, and, judging from his numerous bequests to different monastic and other foundations, religious after the fashion of his age. Fisher was subsequently entered at Michaelhouse, Cambridge, under William de Melton, fellow, and afterwards master of the college. In 1487 he proceeded to his degree of bachelor of arts; was soon after elected fellow of Michaelhouse, proceeded to his degree of M.A. in 1491, filled the office of senior proctor in the university in 1494, and became master of his college in 1497. The duties of the proctorial office necessitated, at that time, occasional attendance at court; and Fisher on his appearance in this capacity at Greenwich attracted the notice of the king's mother, Margaret, countess of Richmond, who in 1497 appointed him her confessor.
In 1501 he was elected vice-chancellor of the university. We learn from his own statements, as well as from other sources, that the whole academic community was at that time in a singularly lifeless and impoverished state. To rescue it from this condition, by infusing new life into its studies and gaining for it the help of the wealthy, was one of the chief services which Fisher rendered to his age. In 1503 he was appointed by the Countess of Richmond to fill the newly founded chair of divinity, which she had instituted for the purpose of providing gratuitous theological instruction in the university; and it appears to have been mainly by his advice that about the same time the countess also founded the Lady Margaret preachership, designed for supplying evangelical instruction of the laity