Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bargrave, Isaac

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BARGRAVE, ISAAC (1586–1643), dean of Canterbury, was the sixth son of Robert Bargrave, of Bridge, Kent, and was born in 1586. He was educated at Clare Hall, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. and M.A. On 9 July 1611 he was incorporated M.A. of Oxford, and in the October following became rector of Eythorne. In 1612 he held the office of 'taxor' at Cambridge, and he played the part of 'Torcol, portugallus, leno' in the Latin comedy of 'Ignoramus,' performed at the university before James I on 8 March 1614-15 (Nichols's Progresses, iii. 52). The author of the comedy, George Ruggle, was Bargrave's 'fellow-collegiate.' Shortly afterwards Bargrave proceeded to Venice as chaplain to Sir Henry Wotton, the English ambassador there, and became intimate with Padre Paolo, well known as Father Paul, the author of the 'History of the Council of Trent.' In 1618 he returned to England with a letter of introduction from "Wotton to the king, in which his 'discretion and zeale' were highly commended (Wotton's Letters (Roxburgh Club), p. 26). In 1622 he received the degree of D.D. at Cambridge, and was appointed a prebendary of Canterbury Cathedral. It was about the same time that he was granted the living of St. Margaret's, Westminster, and became chaplain to Prince Charles, an office which he retained after the prince ascended the throne in 1625. On the death of John Boys, dean of Canterbury, who had married Bargrave's 'sister, Bargrave succeeded to the deanery, to which he was formally admitted on 16 Oct. 1625. He obtained the vicarage of Tenterden in 1626, and was presented to the benefice of Lydd by the king in September 1627, but only held it for a few weeks. On 5 June 1628 he received the vicarage of Chartham, which he continued to hold till his death.

In the last years of James I's reign Bargrave had shown much sympathy with the popular party in parliament, and had preached a sermon which threw him into disfavour with the court; but as dean of Canterbury he supported the policy of Charles I. A sermon preached by him before Charles I on 27 March 1627 is stated to have greatly aided the collection of that year's arbitrary loan (Birch's Court of Charles I, i. 214-15). In later years Bargrave did not live on very good terms with his diocesan, Archbishop Laud, or with the cathedral clergy. The latter were constantly complaining of their dean's partiality in the distribution of patronage, and Laud constantly rebuked him for his ' peevish differences,' his 'petty quarrels,' and the 'revilings in chapter.' In 1634-5 he insisted on the Walloon congregation at Canterbury and the Belgian church of Sandwich conforming to the ritual of the church of England; but the archbishop did not approve of these high-handed orders. Bargrave claimed precedence over the deans of London and Westminster, and was long engaged in a dispute with William Somner, the registrar of the diocese of Canterbury. Soon after the opening of the Long parliament Bargrave became a special object of attack with the popular leaders. When the bill for the abolition of deans and chapters was introduced by Sir Edward Dering, the first cousin of his wife, he was fined 1,000l. as a prominent member of convocation. On 12 May 1641 he went to the House of Commons to present petitions from the university of Cambridge and from the officers of Canterbury Cathedral against the bill. Although the bill was ultimately dropped, Bargrave's unpopularity increased. At the beginning of the civil war, in August 1642, Sandys, a parliamentary colonel, to whom the dean is said to have shown special kindkindness in earlier life, visited Canterbury and attacked the deanery. Bargrave was absent, but his wife and children were cruelly outraged. On hearing that the dean was at Gravesend, Sandys proceeded thither, arrested him, and sent him to the Fleet. After three weeks' imprisonment Bargrave was released without having been brought to trial. He returned to Canterbury broken in health, and died there early in January 1642-3. He was buried in the dean's chapel of the cathedral. In 1679 a memorial was erected above the grave by the dean's nephew, John Bargrave, D.D. [q. v.]. The memorial mainly consisted of a portrait of the dean, attributed to Cornelius Jansen, painted on copper, with an inscription commemorating his virtues, his learning, and his intimacy with foreigners and with the English nobility. An engraving of the portrait appears in Dart's 'Antiquities of Canterbury ' (1726), p. 58. Wotton, in his will dated 1 Oct. 1637, left to the dean all his Italian books not otherwise bequeathed and his viol de gamba, 'which hath been,' says Wotton, ' twice with me in Italy, in which country I first contracted with him an unremovable affection.' Izaak Walton describes Bargrave in his 'Life of Wotton ' as 'learned and hospitable.'

Bargrave published three sermons—one preached from Psalms xxvi. 6 before the House of Commons 28 Feb. 1623-4; another preached from Hosea x. 1 at Whitehall in 1624, and a third preached from 1 Sam. xv. 23 before King Charles 29 March 1627. He married Elizabeth, the daughter of Sir John Dering, of Pluckley, and first cousin of the eccentric Sir Edward Dering. Bargrave encouraged Sir Edward in the wooing of a rich widow in 1628-9, but the relatives afterwards seriously disagreed on political subjects (Proceedings in Kent, 1640, from the Dering MSS. (Camden Soc.), xxx., xlix. 7). Of Bargrave's children one son, Thomas, was the subject of a petition addressed by the dean to Secretary Windebank in 1639, asking permission for the youth to study at Amsterdam. Thomas married a niece of Sir Henry Wotton, and was an executor of Sir Henry's will. Another son, Robert, was the father of John, Isaac, Henry, Joan, and Robert Bargrave, who, with their father, lie buried in the north aisle of Canterbury Cathedral.

[Walker's Sufferings of the Clergy, pt. ii. p. 5; Wood's Fasti Oxon. (ed. Bliss), i. 345; Le Neve's Fasti (Hardy), i. 33, 52, iii. 636; Hasted's Kent, iii. 102, 156, iv. 593-4; Dart's Antiquities of Canterbury (1726), pp. 56, 189; Verney's Notes on the Long Parliament (Camden Soc.), 76; Cal. Dom. State Papers, 1625-42; Laud's Correspondence in vol. vii. of his works.]

S. L. L.