Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bekinsau, John

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BEKINSAU, JOHN (1496?–1559), scholar and divine, was born at Broadchalke, in Wiltshire, about 1496. His father, John Bekinsau, of Hartley Wespell, Hampshire, is supposed to have belonged to the Lancashire family of Becconsall (Tanner); but Hoare (Hist. of Wilts, iv. 153) argues that there was a family of the name native in Wiltshire.

Bekinsau was educated at Winchester School, and proceeded to New College, Oxford; he was made fellow of that society in 1520, and took the degree of M.A. in 1526. At Oxford he was, according to Wood, esteemed ‘an admirable Grecian;’ and on proceeding to Paris he read the Greek lecture in the university, probably soon after 1530, the year in which Francis I founded the royal professorships and revived the study of Greek at Paris. Having returned to England, Bekinsau married, and so vacated his fellowship, in 1538.

His only extant work is a treatise ‘De supremo et absoluto Regis imperio’ (London, 1546), republished in Goldast's ‘Monarchia’ in 1611; this work is dedicated to Henry VIII, ‘the head of the church immediately after Christ,’ and affirms the full supremacy of the king against that of the pope. The argument proceeds mainly by quotations from the fathers, of whom Chrysostom seems the favourite. He was a friend of John Leland, who addresses a poem to a forthcoming work of Bekinsau, and refers to the learning and Parisian studies of its author (Leland, Encomia, p. 9). Bale gives a bad account of Bekinsau, alleging that his work on the supremacy was only written for the sake of lucre. The same biographer adds that he returned to the Roman church in 1554, ‘like a dog to his vomit.’ On the accession of Elizabeth, Bekinsau retired to Sherburne, a village in Hampshire, where he died, and was buried on 20 Dec. 1559.

[Wood's Athenæ, i. 129; Tanner's Bibliotheca; Bale; Hoare's Wiltshire.]

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