Buckeridge, John (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

BUCKERIDGE or BUCKRIDGE, JOHN (1562?–1631), bishop of Rochester and of Ely, was the son of William Buckeridge and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Keblewhite of Basildon, Berkshire, and granddaughter of John Keblewhite, uncle of Sir Thomas White, the founder of Merchant Taylors' School and of St. John's College, Oxford. He was born at Draycot Cerne, near Chippenham, Wiltshire, about 1562, and was admitted at Merchant Taylors' School in 1573, and elected thence a foundation fellow of St. John's, Oxford, in 1578. Here he took the degree of B.A. in 1583, M.A. in 1586, and B.D. and D.D. by accumulation in 1597, ultimately succeeding to the presidentship of the college in 1605. While Buckeridge was still a fellow William Laud was entered at St. John's. Buckeridge became his tutor, and instilled into his pupil high-church and anti-Calvinistic doctrine, opposed to the then prevalent theological bias of the university. Buckeridge was an Anglican of the school of Andrewes, equally opposed to Romanism and puritanism, calm but unflinching in the maintenance of his views of religious truth and ecclesiastical polity. ‘It proved,’ writes Heylyn, ‘no ordinary happiness to the scholar to be principled under such a tutor, who knew as well as any other of his time how to employ the two-edged sword of Holy Scripture, … brandishing it on the one side against the papists, and on the other against the puritans and nonconformists’ (Heylyn, Cyprianus Anglicanus, pt. i. p. 44). Buckeridge's real merits became known to Archbishop Whitgift, and about 1596 he appointed him one of his chaplains. In this capacity he was one of those who attended the archbishop in his last sickness (February 1604), and heard his reiterated dying words, ‘Pro ecclesiâ Dei, pro ecclesiâ Dei’ (Strype, Whitgift, ii. 507). On leaving the university, he became rector of North Fambridge in Essex, and was appointed chaplain to Robert Devereux, the unfortunate earl of Essex, who made petition in his behalf to the then lord-keeper, Puckering, for small pieces of preferment in his gift (Strype, Annals, iv. 245; Wood, Athenæ, ii. 510). He was afterwards presented to the living of North Kilworth in Leicestershire, in which, in 1608, Laud succeeded him, though not immediately. Through Whitgift, Buckeridge was introduced to James I, and he speedily rose high in the royal favour. He was regarded by the king as one of the first pulpit divines of his day. He was now in the high road to preferment. After a long period of domination puritanism lost its influence. In Elizabeth's reign he had received a canonry at Rochester, in which capacity his name occurs in 1587. He was now appointed royal chaplain. In March 1604 he became archdeacon of Northampton; the next month he was installed prebendary of Colwall in the cathedral of Hereford; and in the November of the same year he was nominated by the king to succeed Lancelot Andrewes, on his consecration to the see of Chichester, in the well-endowed vicarage of St. Giles, Cripplegate, which he held in commendam after his elevation to the episcopate. The next year he was elected president of St. John's College, to which office he was admitted on 30 Jan. 1605. In April 1606 he was appointed canon of Windsor, and resigned his stall at Rochester. In September 1606 he was selected by James I, together with Bishops Andrewes and Barlow and Dr. King, afterwards bishop of London, to preach one of the sermons at Hampton Court designed to convince the learned presbyterians, Andrew and James Melville, of the scriptural authority of the episcopal form of church government, and of the royal supremacy. To Buckeridge the latter of the two subjects was assigned, which, according to Archbishop Spotiswood (Church Hist. of Scotland, bk. vii. p. 497; Heylyn, u. s., p. 44), he ‘handled both learnedly and soundly, to the satisfaction of all hearers,’ with the exception of the presbyterians, who were ‘much nettled at being equalled to the papists in matter of rebellion against their lawful sovereigns.’ On the translation of Neile from Rochester to Lichfield, Buckeridge was selected by James to succeed him. He was consecrated at Lambeth on 9 June 1611 by Archbishop Abbot, Andrewes and his predecessor, Neile, being among the assisting prelates. The headship of his college, thus vacated, was filled by his former pupil, Laud, mainly on his recommendation. He had previously introduced Laud to the notice of Bishop Neile, who had appointed him his chaplain, and thus paved the way for his future preferment. In the month of September 1613 Buckeridge was one of the prelates concerned in the infamous Essex divorce case, and pronounced, with Andrewes, Bilson, and Neile, for the nullity of the marriage, against Archbishop Abbot, Bishop King of London, and the soundest civilians.

In the fierce controversy aroused by the two books of Dr. Richard Montague, Buckeridge stood by the side of Laud, now the bishop of St. David's, in his defence. Laud employed his influence with Buckingham to secure his favour for Montague; and on the day that the house was pronouncing a formal censure on his views (2 Aug. 1625), he declared with Buckeridge and Bishop Howson of Oxford, in a joint letter to the duke, that in their opinion Montague's statements were in no way contrary to the doctrines of the church of England (Laud, Collected Works, Lib. of Anglo-Cath. Theol. vol. vi. pt. i. pp. 244–6). In February 1626, when Buckingham had been induced to consent that a two days' conference should be held at York House on the incriminated books, Buckeridge, aided by White, dean of Carlisle, and Cosin, supported Montague's orthodoxy against the attacks of Bishop Morton of Lichfield and Dr. Preston, the puritan master of Emmanuel. Buckeridge's defence was able and temperate. He denied that the council of Trent had erred in any directly fundamental article of faith. A second conference was held a few days later, at which Montague defended his theses in person against Bishop Morton and Dr. Preston. On the presentation of the ‘Petition of Right,’ in 1628, Buckeridge advised that it should be delivered to the judges, that they might give their opinion whether anything in it encroached on the royal prerogative. If their reply was favourable, the petition might then be entered on the roll without in any way prejudicing the king's right (Gardiner, Hist. of Engl. vi. 64, 287).

On 26 Nov. 1628 Buckeridge preached the funeral sermon of Bishop Andrewes, his honoured friend for above thirty years, at St. Saviour's, Southwark, in which he repudiated the doctrine of the Real Presence in any proper sense. In 1629, in conjunction with Laud, then bishop of London, he published, by the king's special command, Andrewes's ‘Ninety-one Sermons,’ to which his funeral sermon was appended. In April 1628 Buckeridge, ‘by the power and favour’ of Laud (Heylyn), had been appointed to succeed Nicholas Felton as bishop of Ely. He died on 23 May 1631, ‘leaving behind him the character of a very pious, learned, and worthy bishop.’ He was buried in the parish church of Bromley, Kent, where the palace of the bishops of Rochester was then situated. Two portraits of Buckeridge as bishop are preserved in St. John's College, Oxford, one in the hall, and a second, of smaller size, representing him as an older man, in the presidents' lodgings. He bequeathed 500l. towards improving the stipends of the fellows and scholars of St. John's College, to the chapel of which he gave the altar furniture, hangings, and plate of his episcopal chapel at Ely. He also left a bequest to the poor of the parish of Bromley, the proceeds of which are still received. In addition to the funeral sermon on Bishop Andrewes, Buckeridge published: 1. ‘A Sermon preached at Hampton Court before the King,’ 23 Sept. 1606 [on the royal supremacy]. 2. ‘De Potestate Papæ in rebus temporalibus sive in regibus deponendis usurpata adv. Robertum Cardinalem Bellarminum libri duo,’ London, 1614, 4to. 3. ‘A Sermon preached before Her Majestie at Whitehall, Mar. 22, 1617 [on Ps. xcv. 6], touching prostration and kneeling in the worship of God. To which is added a discourse concerning kneeling at the communion,’ London, 1618, 4to. In this, writes Heylyn (ib.), ‘he asserted the piety and antiquity of this religious posture with such solid reasons and such clear authorities that he came off without the least opposition by that party.’

[Wood's Athenæ, ii. 506–10; Newcourt's Repertorium, i. 357; Taylor's Hist. Coll. S. John Bapt. MS.; Cosin's Sum and Substance of the Conferences at York House, Lib. A.-C. T. ii. 17–83; Heylyn's Cyprianus Anglicanus, pp. 44 sq.; Hunt's Religious Thought in England, i. 155–7; Gardiner's Hist. of Engl.]

E. V.