Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Crowley, Robert
CROWLEY, CROLE, or CROLEUS, ROBERT (1518?–1588), author, printer, and divine, was born in Gloucestershire, and be- came a student at the university of Oxford about 1534. He was soon after made a demy at Magdalen College, and in 1542 was probationer-fellow, having taken his B.A. degree (Wood, Athenæ, i. 542). He was attracted by the doctrines of the Reformation, and in 1548 published three controversial works, printed by Day & Seres, ‘probably,’ says Herbert, ‘he might correct the press there, and learn the art of printing, which he afterwards practised himself’ (Typogr. Antiq. ii. 758). He had an office of his own in 1549 in Ely Rents, Holborn, where he printed his metrical version of the Psalms and a couple of other volumes in verse from his pen. In 1550, besides the well-known ‘One and Thyrtye Epigrammes’ and other volumes of his own production, he printed the work on which his typographical fame chiefly rests. This was the ‘Vision of Pierce Plowman,’ of which he issued no less than three impressions in that year (Skeat's edit. 1886, ii. lxxii–lxxvi). Some of the earliest Welsh books came from his press. He was ordained deacon by Ridley 29 Sept. 1551, and was described in the bishop's register as ‘stationer, of the parish of St. Andrew, Holborn’ (Strype, Memorials, ii. pt. i. 553). He then gave up his printing, which he only practised during three years. He was among the exiles at Frankfort in 1554 (A Brieff Discours of the Troubles (1575), 1846, passim). On the death of Mary he returned to England, and preached at Paul's Cross on 15 Oct. 1559 and 31 March 1560 (Strype, Annals, i. pt. i. 200, 299). He was admitted to the archdeaconry of Hereford in 1559, and the ensuing year was instituted to the stall or prebend of ‘Pratum majus’ in the cathedral of that city (Cowper, Introd. x). As member of convocation he subscribed to the articles of 1562, and busied himself with matters of ecclesiastical discipline. He also at that time held the living of St. Peter's the Poor in London (Annals, i. pt. i. 489, 493, 501, 504, 512). He was collated to the prebend of Mora in St. Paul's on the decease of John Veron, 1 Sept. 1563 (Newcourt, Repertorium, i. 181). When Archbishop Parker in 1564 endeavoured to enforce among the clergy the use of the square cap, tippet, and surplice, he was opposed by Crowley, who refused to minister in the ‘conjuring garments of popery’ (Strype, Parker, i. 301). In 1566 he was vicar of St. Giles without Cripplegate, and was deprived and imprisoned for creating a disturbance about the wearing of surplices by some singing men in his church (ib. 434–6). He resigned his archdeaconry in 1567, and was succeeded in his prebendal chair at Hereford the following year by another clerk. The vestment question troubled him greatly, and he published ‘A Discourse against the Outwarde Apparell and Garmentes of the Popishe Churche.’ On 29 Sept. 1574 he preached a sermon at the Guildhall before the lord mayor, Sir James Hawes, knt., and on 5 May 1576 he was presented to the vicarage of St. Lawrence Jewry, then in the gift of the bishop of London by lapse. This he resigned in 1578. He did not entirely give up his connection with bookselling, as on 27 Sept. 1578 he was admitted a freeman of the Stationers' Company by redemption (Arber, Transcript, ii. 679), and afterwards to the livery. He preached before the company 3 July 1586. In 1580 he and another were appointed to visit the Roman catholic prisoners in the Marshalsea and White Lion at Southwark. Strype speaks of him as ‘in the year 1582 very diligent in visiting and disputing with certain priests in the Tower’ (Parker, i. 436). He died 18 June 1588, at about the age of seventy, and was buried in the chancel of St. Giles, Cripplegate. His widow was left so poor that she was allowed a pension by the company of four nobles a year. Whether as printer, divine, versifier, or controversialist, Crowley passed his life in battling for the new doctrines. His popularity as a preacher is shown by the numerous entries in Machyn's ‘Diary’ (Camden Soc., 1848).
His works are: 1. ‘The Confutation of XIII articles whereunto N. Shaxton subscribed,’ London, J. Day & W. Seres , sm. 8vo (Shaxton recanted at the burning of Anne Askew, of which event a woodcut is given). 2. ‘An Informacion and Peticion agaynst the Oppressours of the Pore Commons of this Realme’ [London, Day & Seres, 1548], sm. 8vo (analysed in Strype, Memorials, ii. pt. i. 217–26; Ames thought it was printed by the author). 3. ‘The Confutation of the Mishapen Aunswer to the misnamed, wicked Ballade [by Miles Hoggard] called the Abuse of ye Blessed Sacrament of the Aultare,’ London, Day & Seres, 1548, sm. 8vo (the ballad is introduced and refuted both in verse and prose, ib. iii. i. 442). 4. ‘A New Yeres Gyfte, wherein is taught the Knowledge of Oneself and the Fear of God,’ London, R. Crowley, 1549, sm. 8vo. 5. ‘The Voyce of the Laste Trumpet, blowen by the Seventh Angel, callyng al estats of men to the ryght path,’ London, R. Crowley, 1549 and 1550, sm. 8vo (a metrical sermon addressed to twelve conditions of men). 6. ‘The Psalter of David newely translated in Englysh metre,’ London, R. Crowley, 1549, 8vo (Crowley was the first to versify the whole Psalter). 7. ‘Dialogue between Lent and Liberty, wherein is declared that Lent is a meer invention of man,’ London, n. d., 8vo (title from Wood). 8. ‘The Way to Wealth, wherein is plainly taught a most present remedy for sedicion,’ London, Crowley, 1550, sm. 8vo (of considerable political and historical value). 9. ‘Pleasure and Payne, Heaven and Hell; Remember these Foure, and all shall be Well,’ London, Crowley, 1551, sm. 8vo (in verse). 10. ‘One and Thyrtye Epigrammes, wherein are bryefly touched so many abuses that may and ought to be put away,’ London, Crowley, 1550, sm. 8vo, said to have been reprinted in 1551 and 1559 (the copy in the Cambridge University Library is the only one known; Strype reprinted fifteen of the epigrams in ‘Memorials,’ ii. pt. ii. 465–73). 11. ‘The true copye of a Prolog wrytten about two c. yeres past by John Wyckliffe,’ London, Crowley, 1550, sm. 8vo. 12. ‘The Fable of Philargyrie, the great Gigant of Great Britain,’ London, Crowley, 1551, sm. 8vo (title from Herbert's ‘Ames’). 13. ‘An Epitome of Cronicles,’ London, T. Marshe, 1559, 4to (by T. Languet; continued by T. Cooper, from Edward VI to Elizabeth by Crowley). 14. ‘An Apologie or Defence of those Englishe Writers and Preachers which Cerberus chargeth with false doctrine under the name of Predestination,’ London, H. Denham, 1566, 4to (see Prynne, Canterburie's Doome, 1646, p. 169). 15. ‘A Briefe Discourse against the Outwarde Apparell and Ministring Garmentes of the Popishe Church,’ London, 1566 and 1578, sm. 8vo. 16. ‘The Opening of the Wordes of the Prophet Joell, concerning the Signes of the Last Day,’ London, H. Bynneman, 1567, sm. 8vo (curious satirical verse written in 1546). 17. ‘A Setting Open of the Subtyle Sophistrie of T. Watson, which he used in hys two Sermons made before Queene Mary, 1553, to proove the Reall Presence,’ London, H. Denham, 1569, 4to (see Strype, Annals, i. pt. ii. 303). 18. ‘A Sermon made in the Chappell at the Gylde Hall in London before the Lord Maior,’ London, J. Awdeley, 1575, sm. 8vo. 19. ‘An Aunswer to Sixe Reasons that Thomas Pownde, at the commandement of her Maiesties commissioners, required to be aunsuered,’ London, 1581, 4to. 20. ‘Brief Discourse concerning those four usual notes whereby Christ's Catholic Church is known,’ London, 1581, 4to (title from Wood). 21. ‘A Replication of that Lewd Answeare which Frier John Francis hath made,’ London, 1586, 4to. 22. ‘A Deliberat Answere made to a rash offer which a popish Anti-christian Catholique made,’ London, J. Charlewood, 1588, 4to (answering ‘A notable Discourse by John de Albine,’ Douai, 1575).
Crowley also added a preface to an undated reprint of Tyndale's ‘Supper of the Lord,’ 1551 (see Notes and Queries, 1st ser. i. 332, 355, 362), and edited an edition of Seager's ‘Schoole of Vertue,’ 1557 (ib. 4th ser. vi. 452).
The ‘Select Works’ (Nos. 2, 5, 8, 9, 10 above) were edited, with introduction, notes, &c., by J. M. Cowper for the Early English Text Society (extra ser. No. xv.), 1872.
[Besides the authorities mentioned above, see Tanner's Bibliotheca, 210; Ames's Typogr. Antiq. (Herbert), ii. 757–62; the same (Dibdin), iv. 325–35; Collier's Bibl. Account, i. 39; Maitland's Index of English Works printed before 1600, 1845, pp. 28–9; W. C. Hazlitt's Handbook, 1867; W. C. Hazlitt's Collections and Notes, 1876; Corser's Collectanea Anglo-Poetica, pt. iv. pp. 539–42; Catalogue of Books in the British Museum printed before 1640, 1884; Warton's History of English Poetry, 1840, iii. 165–6; Heylyn's Ecclesia Restaurata, 1849, i. 153, ii. 186.]