Whitehead, David (DNB00)
|←Whitehead, Charles||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 61
WHITEHEAD, DAVID (1492?–1571), divine, born about 1492, was a native of Hampshire (Wood), where the Whiteheads had some landed property (Cal. Inq. post mortem, Henry VII, vol. i. No. 10). His contemporary, Hugh Whitehead (d. 1551), with whom David has been confused, belonged to a Durham branch of the family, was from 1519 to 1540 last prior, and from 1541 first dean of Durham. He was implicated in the fictitious charges of treason brought against his bishop, Cuthbert Tunstall [q. v.], in 1550–1, and was imprisoned in the Tower, where he died in November 1551 (Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, passim; Acts P. C., ed. Dasent, vol. iii.; Wood, Fasti, p. 38; Collectanea, Oxford Hist. Soc., iii. 25; Oxford Univ. Reg. i. 62; Dixon, Hist. Church of England, ii. 149, 223, iii. 320, 321).
David Whitehead is said to have been educated at Brasenose or All Souls' College, Oxford, but his name does not appear in the defective registers of the period. The statement that he was chaplain to Anne Boleyn has also not been verified, but there is no doubt that he was tutor to Charles Brandon, the young duke of Suffolk, who died in 1551. During the winter of 1549–50 Whitehead, Lever, and Hutchinson endeavoured to convert Joan Bocher [q. v.] from her heresies (Hutchinson, Works, p. 146). In 1552 Cranmer described him as ‘Mr. Whitehead of Hadley,’ though with which Hadley he was connected is uncertain, and on 25 Aug. suggested him to Cecil as a candidate for the vacant archbishopric of Armagh, adding ‘I take Mr. Whitehead for his good knowledge, special honesty, fervent zeal, and politic wisdom to be most meet’ (Cranmer, Works, ii. 438). Whitehead, however, refused the appointment, and Hugh Goodacre [q. v.] became archbishop. On 25 Nov. following he took part in the discussion on the sacrament at Cecil's house.
Soon after Mary's accession Whitehead fled to the continent; he was one of the hundred and seventy-five who sailed with John à Lasco [q. v.] from Gravesend on 17 Sept. 1553. Whitehead was in the smaller vessel which reached Copenhagen on 3 Nov.; the exiles were taken for anabaptists, and soon expelled by order of the king on refusing to subscribe to the Lutheran confession. They then made their way to Rostock, where Whitehead pleaded their cause before the magistrates, whose Lutheran requirements they failed to satisfy, and they were compelled to leave in January. A similar fate befell them at Wismar, Lubeck, and Hamburg, but they found a refuge at Emden in March (Utenhove, Simplex Narratio, Basle, 1560, pp. 119 sqq.; English Hist. Rev. x. 434–40; Dalton, Lasciana, Berlin, 1898, pp. 335–6). Meanwhile an attempt was being made to found a church of English exiles at Frankfort, and on 2 Aug. 1554 an invitation was sent to Whitehead and other exiles at Emden to join the church at Frankfort; ‘on 24 October came Maister Whitehead to Franckford, and at the requeste of the congregation he took the charge for a time and preached uppon the epistle to the Romans’ (Knox, Works, Bannatyne Club, iv. 12).
Whitehead was one of those who wished to retain the use of the English prayer book of 1552, and in the famous ‘troubles’ at Frankfort took the side of Richard Cox [q. v.] against Knox. After the expulsion of Knox (26 March 1555) Whitehead was chosen pastor of the congregation. On 20 Sept. he and his colleagues wrote a letter to Calvin to justify their proceedings against Knox, and repudiating the charge of too rigorous adherence to the prayer-book and using ‘lights and crosses;’ their ceremonies, they pleaded, were really very few, and they went on to attack Knox's ‘Admonition’ as an ‘outrageous pamphlet’ which had added ‘much oil to the flame of persecution in England’ (Original Letters, Parker Soc., pp. 755 sqq.) In February 1555–6 Whitehead resigned his pastorate, being succeeded on 1 March by Robert Horne (1519?–1580) [q. v.]; the cause is said to have been his disappointment at not being made lecturer in divinity in succession to Bartholomew Traheron [q. v.] He remained, however, at Frankfurt, signing a letter to Bullinger on 27 Sept. 1557.
On Elizabeth's accession Whitehead returned to England, preaching before the queen on 15 Feb. 1558–9, taking part in the disputation with the Roman catholic bishops on 3 April, and serving as a visitor of Oxford University, and on the commission for revising the liturgy (Machyn, Diary, p. 189; Hayward, Annals, p. 19; Gee, Elizabethan Clergy, p. 130). He is said by all his biographers to have had the first refusal of the archbishopric of Canterbury, and he also declined the mastership of the Savoy. On 17 Sept. 1561 he wrote to Cecil acknowledging his obligations to him, but lamenting the necessity he was under of refusing the living he offered (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1547–80, p. 185). ‘So that whether he had any spiritualities of note conferr'd on him is yet doubtful, he being much delighted in travelling to and fro to preach the word of God in those parts where he thought it was wanting’ (Wood). He is reported by Whitgift to have frequently deplored the excesses of some ministers, but his own leanings were puritan, and on 24 March 1563–4 he was sequestered for refusing to subscribe. Francis Bacon, who calls Whitehead a ‘grave divine … of a blunt stoical nature,’ and says he was ‘much esteemed by Queen Elizabeth, but not preferred because he was against the government of bishops,’ also relates that the queen once said to him ‘I like thee better because thou livest unmarried,’ to which Whitehead replied ‘In troth, madame, I like you the worse for the same cause’ (Works, ed. Spedding, vii. 163). Richard Hilles, however, in announcing Whitehead's death in June 1571, stated that ‘he lived about seven years a widower … but very lately, before the middle of this year, he married a young widow when he was himself about eighty’ (Zurich Letters, i. 242). An engraved portrait is given in Fuller's ‘Holy State’ and in Holland's ‘Herωologia’ (p. 173).
Fuller mentions Whitehead's ‘many books still extant,’ but with the exception of some discourses printed in Whittingham's ‘Brieff Discours of Troubles at Frankfort’ (1575), they have not been traced either in print or manuscript. A translation of Ripley's ‘Medulla Alchymiæ’ is ascribed in Bernard's ‘Catalogue of Ashmolean Manuscripts’ to David Whitehead, ‘doctor of Physick’ (Cat. MSS. Angliæ, i. 332; in Black, Cat. Ashmole MSS. col. 1319, the ascription is merely to ‘D. W.’)[Authorities cited; Lansd. MS. 981 f. 113; Strype's Works (general index); Gough's Index to Parker Soc. Publ. passim; Whittingham's Brieff Discours, 1575; Wood's Athenæ, i. 396; Knox's Works (Bannatyne Club); Foxe's Actes and Mon.; Bale, ix. 91; Fuller's Worthies, ii. 12; Peter Martyr's Commentarius, 1568; Tanner's Bibl. Brit.-Hib. p. 762; Brook's Puritans, i. 170–4; Parkhurst's Ludicra, p. 114; Churton's Life of Nowell; Burnet's Hist. of the Reformation, ed. Pocock; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Dixon's Hist. Church of England, iii. 238, 386, iv. 696.]