Rawley, William (DNB00)

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RAWLEY, WILLIAM (1588?–1667), the ‘learned chaplain’ of Francis Bacon, born at Norwich about 1588, was admitted a bible-clerk of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, on 22 Jan. 1606, and, after graduating B.A., was elected fellow and tutor of his college on 19 March 1609–10. He took holy orders in 1611, and was instituted by the university to the rectory of Bowthorpe, Norfolk, on 10 Dec. 1612. Soon afterwards he obtained an introduction to Sir Francis Bacon, who induced Corpus Christi College to bestow on him the rectory of Landbeach in 1616. He proceeded B.D. in 1615, and D.D. in 1621. When Bacon became lord chancellor in 1618, he made Rawley his chaplain and amanuensis. Bacon treated Rawley with the utmost confidence, and employed him in preparing his manuscripts for publication. When he ceased to be lord chancellor in 1621, Bacon recommended Rawley to the notice of Bishop Williams, the new lord keeper, but from him Rawley received little beyond promises. He maintained friendly relations with Bacon, and in 1623 there appeared ‘cura et fide Gul. Rawley,’ the first edition of Bacon's ‘De Augmentis.’ On Bacon's death in 1626 he left Rawley 100l. and his copy of the polyglot bible. Rawley devoted himself thenceforth to editing Bacon's unpublished writings, and to translating the English works into Latin. In 1627 he published ‘Sylva Sylvarum,’ with the ‘New Atlantis’ appended; in 1629 ‘Certaine Miscellany Works;’ in 1638 ‘Operum moralium et civilium Tomus,’ including a Latin rendering of the ‘Essays’ by Rawley, who dedicated the volume to Charles I; in 1657 (2nd edit. 1661) ‘Resuscitatio, or bringing into publick Light severall pieces of the Works hitherto sleeping of … Francis Bacon, Viscount St. Albans, together with his Lordship's Life’ (all in English); and in 1658 (2nd edit. 1663) ‘Opuscula varia Posthuma,’ again with Rawley's life (all in Latin). Rawley's sympathetic memoir is the basis of all subsequent biographies of Bacon.

Rawley was appointed chaplain to both Charles I and Charles II, but passed his time mainly at Landbeach. In 1661 he was elected to convocation as proctor of clergy for the diocese of Ely, and in that capacity subscribed the revised Book of Common Prayer. He died at Landbeach on 18 June 1667, and was buried in his church, where a tablet, with a Latin inscription, was placed to his memory. He married Barbara (d. 1666), daughter of John Wicksted, alderman of Cambridge, by whom he had two children: Mary, who died in infancy; and William, a fellow of Corpus Christi College, who, like his mother, died of the plague, and was buried at Landbeach on 3 July 1666.

[Masters's Hist. of Corpus Christi Coll.; Spedding's Life of Bacon; Chalmers's Biogr. Dict.; art. Bacon, Francis.]

S. L.