1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Allestree, Richard

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11943151911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 1 — Allestree, RichardPhilip Chesney Yorke

ALLESTREE, or Allestry, RICHARD (1619–1681), royalist divine and provost of Eton College, son of Robert Allestree, and a descendant of an ancient Derbyshire family, was born at Uppington in Shropshire. He was educated at Coventry and later at Christ Church, Oxford, under Richard Busby. He entered as a commoner in 1636, was made student shortly afterwards, and took the degree of B.A. in 1640 and of M.A. in 1643. In 1642 he took up arms for the king under Sir John Biron. On the arrival of the parliamentary forces soon afterwards in Oxford he secreted the Christ Church valuables, and the soldiers found nothing in the treasury “except a single groat and a halter in the bottom of a large iron chest.” He escaped severe punishment only by the hasty retirement of the army from the town. He was present at the battle of Edgehill in October 1642, after which, while hastening to Oxford to prepare for the king’s visit to Christ Church, he was captured by a troop of Lord Say’s soldiers from Broughton House, being soon afterwards set free on the surrender of the place to the king’s forces. In 1643 he was again under arms, performing “all duties of a common soldier” and “frequently holding his musket in one hand and his book in the other.” At the close of the Civil War, he returned to his studies, took holy orders, was made censor and became a “noted tutor.” But he still remained an ardent royalist. He voted for the university decree against the Covenant, and, refusing submission to the parliamentary visitors in 1648, he was expelled. He found a retreat as chaplain in the house of the Hon. Francis Newport, afterwards Viscount Newport, in whose interests he undertook a journey to France. On his return he joined two of his friends, Dolben and Fell, afterwards respectively archbishop of York and bishop of Oxford, then resident at Oxford, and later joined the household of Sir Antony Cope of Hanwell, near Banbury. He was now frequently employed in carrying despatches between the king and the royalists in England. In May 1659 he brought a command from Charles in Brussels, directing the bishop of Salisbury to summon all those bishops, who were then alive, to consecrate clergymen to various sees “to secure a continuation of the order in the Church of England,” then in danger of becoming extinct.[1] While returning from one of these missions, in the winter before the Restoration, he was arrested at Dover and committed a prisoner to Lambeth Palace, then used as a gaol for apprehended royalists, but was liberated after confinement of a few weeks at the instance, among others, of Lord Shaftesbury. At the Restoration he became canon of Christ Church, D.D. and city lecturer at Oxford. In 1663 he was made chaplain to the king and regius professor of divinity. In 1665 he was appointed provost of Eton College, and proved himself a capable administrator. He introduced order into the disorganized finances of the college and procured the confirmation of Laud’s decree, which reserved five of the Eton fellowships for members of King’s College. His additions to the college buildings were less successful; for the “Upper School,” constructed by him at his own expense, was falling into ruin almost in his lifetime, and was replaced by the present structure in 1689. Allestree died on the 28th of January 1681, and was buried in the chapel at Eton College, where there is a Latin inscription to his memory. His writings are:—The Privileges of the University of Oxford in point of Visitation (1647)—a tract answered by Prynne in the University of Oxford’s Plea Rejected ; 18 sermons whereof 15 preached before the king . . . (1669); 40 sermons whereof 21 are now first published . . . (2 vols., 1684); sermons published separately including A Sermon on Acts xiii. 2, (1660); A Paraphrase and Annotations upon all the Epistles of St Paul (joint author with Abraham Woodhead and Obadiah Walker, 1675, see edition of 1853 and preface by W. Jacobson). In the Cases of Conscience by J. Barlow, Bishop of Lincoln (1692), Allestree’s judgment on Mr Cottington’s Case of Divorce is included. A share in the composition, if not the sole authorship, of the books published under the name of the author of the Whole Duty of Man has been attributed to Allestree (Nichols’s Anecdotes, ii. 603), and the tendency of modern criticism is to regard him as the author. His lectures, with which he was dissatisfied, were not published. Allestree was a man of extensive learning, of moderate views and a fine preacher. He was generous and charitable, of “a solid and masculine kindness,” and of a temper hot, but completely under control.

Authorities. Wood’s Athenae Oxonienses (edited by Bliss), iii. 1269; Wood’s Fasti, i. 480, 514, ii. 57, 241, 370; Richard Allestree, 40 sermons, with biographical preface by Dr John Fell (2 vols., 1684); Sufferings of the Clergy, by John Walker; Architectural History of Eton and Cambridge, by R. Willis, i. 420; Hist. of Eton College, by Sir H. C. Maxwell-Lyte; Hist. of Eton College, by Lionel Cust (1899); Egerton MSS., Brit. Mus. 2807 f. 197 b. For Allestree’s authorship of the Whole Duty of Man, see Rev. F. Barham, Journal of Sacred Literature, July 1864, and C. E. Doble’s articles in the Academy, November 1884.  (P. C. Y.) 

  1. Egerton MSS., Brit. Mus. 2807 f. 197 b; Life of Dr John Barfwick, ed. by G. F. Barwick (1903), pp. 107, 129, 134.