Birckbek, Simon (DNB00)

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BIRCKBEK, SIMON (1584–1656), divine, was born at Hornby in Westmoreland. At the age of sixteen he became a student of Queen's College, Oxford, where he was ‘successively a poor serving child, tabarder, or poor child, and at length fellow, being then master of arts.’ He proceeded B.A. in 1604, and B.D. in 1616. Entering holy orders about 1607, he became noted as a preacher and disputant, as well as for his extensive knowledge of the fathers and schoolmen. In 1616 he was admitted to the reading of the sentences, and the year after was made vicar of the church of Grilling in Yorkshire, and also of the chapel of Forcet, near Richmond, in the same county. He received these preferments ‘by the favour of his kinsman, Humphrey Wharton.’ During the troubles of the civil war he 'submitted to the men in power,’ and therefore ‘kept his benefice without fear of sequestration] His most important work is entitled ‘The Protestant's Evidence, showing that for 1,500 years after Christ divers Guides of God’s Church have in sundry Points of Religion taught as the Church of England now doth,’ London, 1634. The book is thrown into the form of a dialogue between a papist and a protestant, and was valued by Selden. A friend having forwarded to Birckbek a copy of his book covered with marginal glosses, which the annotator entitled ‘An Antidote necessary for the reader thereof,’ an elaborate ‘Answer to the Antidotist’ was appended to a second edition of the ‘Evidence' in 1657. The 1657 edition, with this appendix, was published again in 1849 in the supplement to Gibson’s ‘Preservative from Popery,' by the Reformation Society, the Rev. John Cumming being the editor. Birckbek also wrote a ‘Treatise of the Last Four Things’ (death, judgment, hell, and heaven), London, 1655. He died 14 Sept. 1650, and was buried in Forcet Chapel.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), iii. 421, and Fasti, i. 302, 366; B.M. Catalogue]

R. B.