Udall, John (DNB00)

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UDALL or UVEDALE, JOHN (1560?–1592), puritan, has been identified with the fourth and youngest son of Sir William Uvedale [q. v.] of More Crichel (Hutchins, Dorset, 1868, iii. 147). But as the reputed father died in 1542, probably some eighteen years before the son's birth, the alleged relationship must be rejected. John Udall was doubtless akin to the Uvedale families of Wickham in Hampshire and of More Crichel, but the precise degree is undetermined (cf. Surrey Archæological Collections, iii. 63 seq.) He matriculated as a sizar of Christ's College, Cambridge, on 15 March 1577–8, but soon afterwards migrated to Trinity College, and graduated B.A. in 1580–1, and M.A. in 1584. He was a zealous reader of theology, and developed a strong tendency to puritanism, which was encouraged by his intimacy, while both were undergraduates, with John Penry [q. v.]. Udall also obtained at the university a competent knowledge of Hebrew.

Udall has been wrongly identified with John Uvedale, a trusted member of Sir Philip Sidney's household, who was with Sidney in October 1586 at Arnhem during his fatal illness, and witnessed Sidney's will. Uvedale received under its provisions 500l. in consideration of his ‘long and very faithful service,’ and of his voluntary surrender of ‘Ford Place,’ which Sidney had presented to him (Collins, Sydney Papers, i. 111, 112).

Before 1584 Udall took holy orders and became curate of Kingston-upon-Thames under the absentee vicar, Stephen Chatfield. He was soon known there as a convinced puritan who had stern suspicion of the scriptural justification of episcopacy. He preached with eloquence, and three volumes of sermons delivered by him at Kingston were published in 1584. The first volume, called ‘Amendment of Life’ (in three sermons), was dedicated to Charles, lord Howard of Effingham; the second volume was entitled ‘Obedience to the Gospell’ (two sermons); and the third was entitled ‘Peter's Fall: two Sermons upon the Historie of Peter's denying Christ,’ London, 8vo, 1584. A fourth collection of five sermons ‘preached in the time of the dearth in 1586,’ was called ‘The true Remedie against Famine and Warres’ (London, 1586, 12mo). This was dedicated to Ambrose Dudley, earl of Warwick, who was a well-known protector of puritan ministers. Although he was thus influentially supported, Udall's insistence on a literal observance of scriptural precepts was held to infringe Anglican orthodoxy, and in 1586 he was summoned by the bishop of Winchester and the dean of Windsor to appear before the court of high commission at Lambeth. Through the influence of the Countess of Warwick and Sir Drue Drury [q. v.] he was restored to his ministry. This experience of persecution redoubled his ardour. He strongly sympathised with the zealous efforts of his Cambridge friend Penry to stir in the bishops a keener sense of their spiritual duties; and during 1587 Penry seems to have visited him at Kingston. In April 1588 Udall induced Penry's friend, the puritan printer Robert Waldegrave [q. v.], to print at his office in London an anonymous tract in which he trenchantly denounced the church of England from the extreme puritan point of view. The work, which was issued surreptitiously without the license of the Stationers' Company, and bore no name of printer or place of publication on the title-page, was entitled ‘The State of the Church of Englande, laide open in a conference betweene Diotrephes a Byshopp, Tertullus a Papiste, Demetrius an usurer, Pandochus an Inne-keeper, and Paule a preacher of the worde of God.’ Udall developed his argument with much satiric force, and the pamphlet arrested public attention. Archbishop Whitgift and other members of the court of high commission deemed it seditious. It was soon known in London to have been printed by Waldegrave, and in April his press was seized. Udall, whose responsibility remained unknown to the authorities, invited Waldegrave to Kingston to discuss the situation. Penry joined the consultation, with the result that schemes were laid for disseminating through the country further tracts of a like temper. Penry soon arranged to write a series of attacks on the bishops which should bear the pseudonym of Martin Mar-Prelate. Udall supplied him with some information that had come to his knowledge of the illegal practices of the bishop of London, and this information Penry embodied in the first of the Martin Mar-Prelate tracts, which was known as ‘The Epistle.’ But Udall made no other contribution to the series of pamphlets which bore the pseudonym of Martin Mar-Prelate. He had no relation with any of the Martin Mar-Prelate controversialists excepting Penry, and was associated with Penry only at the inception of the Mar-Prelate scheme.

Udall preferred to pursue the bishops single-handed. In July Waldegrave secretly set up a press in the neighbourhood of Kingston, at the house of a widow, Mrs. Elizabeth Crane, at East Molesey. There he printed a second anonymous polemic of Udall which was called: ‘A Demonstration of the trueth of that Discipline which Christe hath prescribed in his worde for the gouernement of his Church, in all times and places, untill the ende of the worlde.’ With great vehemence Udall denounced ‘the supposed governors of the church of England, the archbishops, lord-bishops, archdeacons, and the rest of that order.’ The ‘Demonstration’ was secretly distributed in November, at the same time as Penry's ‘Epistle,’ the first of the distinctive ‘Martin Mar-Prelate’ tracts, which Waldegrave also put into type at the East Molesey press. A reply to Udall appeared in 1590 with the title, ‘A Remonstrance, or plain detection of some of the faults … cobled together in a Booke entituled “A Demonstration.”’ Udall's ‘Dialogue’ and ‘Demonstration’ were both reprinted by Mr. Arber in 1880.

Meanwhile, in July 1588, Udall, although his authorship of the ‘Dialogue’ was hardly suspected, and the ‘Demonstration’ was as yet unpublished, again offended the court of high commission by his uncompromising sermons in the parish church of Kingston, and he was summarily deprived of his living.

After resting ‘about half a year,’ with the intention of leading thenceforth a ‘private life,’ he was invited in December by the Earl of Huntingdon and the inhabitants of Newcastle-upon-Tyne to resume his ministry in that town. He accepted the call, and laboured there assiduously for a year. During the time the plague raged furiously in the district. While at Newcastle Udall openly published in London, under his own name, a new volume of sermons entitled ‘Combat between Christ and the Devil.’ This was of non-controversial character. But meanwhile many Mar-Prelate tracts had been issued in rapid succession by Penry and his associates, and the bishops made every effort to discover their source. Udall was soon suspected of complicity, and on 29 Dec. 1589 he was summoned to London, ‘in the sorest weather,’ to be examined by the privy council. He arrived on 9 Jan. 1589–90, and four days later appeared at a council meeting that was held at Lord Cobham's house in Blackfriars. He was asked whether his ministry at Newcastle was authorised by the bishop of the diocese. He replied that both the bishopric of Durham and the archbishopric of York were vacant during the period of his ministry. He refused to say whether he was the author of the ‘Demonstration’ and ‘Dialogue.’ He acknowledged that Penry had passed through Newcastle three months before, but had merely saluted him at his door (cf. Arber's Sketch of Mar-Prelate Controversy, pp. 88–93). The council ordered Udall's detention in the Gatehouse at Westminster. A second examination by the council followed on 13 July 1590, when similar questions were put to the prisoner and similar answers made by him (ib. pp. 144–7).

On 24 July 1590 he was placed on his trial at the Croydon assizes, before Justice Clarke and Serjeant Puckering, on a charge of having published ‘a wicked, scandalous, and seditious libel’ entitled ‘A Demonstration.’ The indictment was laid under the statute 23 Eliz. cap. 3, which was aimed at attacks on the government made in print by Roman catholics. Udall was refused the aid of counsel, and the prosecution depended wholly on the written depositions previously obtained from witnesses in the high commission court. The judges invited Udall to deny on oath that he was author of the incriminated tract. This he refused to do. He was found guilty, but sentence was deferred, and he was ordered to be imprisoned in the White Lion prison in Southwark. Subsequently he was offered a pardon if he would sign a recantation, but he declined to accept the terms proposed. In February 1590–91 he was brought to the bar of the Southwark assizes, and raised some arguments of doubtful relevance in arrest of judgment. Sentence of death was passed on him, and he was carried back to prison.

No attempt was made to carry out the monstrous sentence, but Udall remained a prisoner, with small hope of life. The iniquitous procedure excited the resentment of many persons of influence, some of whom had shown sympathy with Udall's religious views in earlier days. Sir Walter Ralegh, the Earl of Essex, and Alexander Nowell, dean of St. Paul's, interested themselves on his behalf, and every effort was made to procure his release. At first the prospect was discouraging. He sued for liberty to go to church; permission was refused him. But a little later a copy of the indictment under which he was convicted, but which he had never seen, was sent him. Acting on the advice of friends, he thereupon framed a form of pardon ‘according to the indictment,’ and his wife presented it with his petition to the council. The papers were referred to Archbishop Whitgift. For a time the archbishop was obdurate. But the agitation in Udall's favour grew, and in March 1592 the governors of the Turkey Company offered to send Udall to Syria as pastor of their agents there if he were released at once (cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1591–4, Udall to Burghley, 3 March 1591–2, not 1592–3; Strype, Whitgift, ii. 101–2). The archbishop's scruples were at length overcome, and a pardon was signed by the queen early in June. On 15 June Udall, by the archbishop's direction, informed the lord keeper, Puckering, of that fact. But immediately afterwards Udall fell ill and died. His death was attributed to the cruel and illegal usage to which he had been subjected, and he was long remembered and honoured as a martyr by those who shared his religious convictions. He was buried in the churchyard of St. George's, Southwark. He was survived by his wife and son Ephraim [q. v.]

In the year following Udall's death there appeared at Leyden a valuable grammar and dictionary of the Hebrew tongue by him under the title: ‘מפתח לשון הקודש—that is, The Key of the Holy Tongue’ (Leyden, 12mo, 1593). The first part consists of a Hebrew grammar translated from the Latin of Peter Martinius; the second part supplies ‘a practize’ or exercises on Psalms xxv. and lxv., and the third part is a short dictionary of the Hebrew words of the Bible. The work was prized by James VI of Scotland, who is reported to have inquired for the author on his arrival in England in 1603, and, on learning that he was dead, to have exclaimed, ‘By my soul, then, the greatest scholar of Europe is dead.’

In 1593 also appeared (anonymously in London) the first edition of Udall's ‘Commentarie on the Lamentations of Jeremy;’ other editions are dated in 1595, 1599, and 1637. A Dutch translation by J. Lamstium is dated 1660. Udall's ‘Certaine Sermons, taken out of severall Places of Scripture,’ which was issued in 1596, is a reprint of his volume on the ‘Amendment of Life’ and the ‘Obedience to the Gospel.’ There is erroneously attributed to him an antipapal tract, ‘An Antiquodlibet, or an Advertisement to beware of Secular Priests,’ Middelburg, 12mo, 1602.

[Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. ii. 148–50; A New Discovery of Old Pontificall Practices for the Maintenance of the Prelates Authority and Hierarchy, evinced by their Tyrannicall Persecution of that Reverend, Learned, Pious, and Worthy Minister of Jesus Christ, Master John Udall, in the Raigne of Queen Elizabeth, London, 1643; Maskell's Hist. of the Martin Mar-Prelate Controversy, London, 1845; Arber's Introductory Sketch to the Martin Mar-Prelate Controversy, London, 1879; Arber's prefaces to his reprints of Udall's Demonstration and Dialogue, 1880; Strype's Life of Whitgift, and Annals; Howell's State Trials, i. 1271; Neal's Puritans, i. 330.]

S. L.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.269
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
4 ii 6 Udall, John: for was presented to the living read became curate (under the absentee vicar, Stephen Chatfield)
6 ii 13  for also attributed read erroneously attributed [see Watson, William, 1559?-1603]