Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bush, Paul

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BUSH, PAUL (1490–1558), bishop of Bristol, according to Wood, was born in Somerset, 'of honest and sufficient parents,' in 1490. He studied at the university of Oxford, taking his degree of B.A. about 1517, by which time he was 'numbered among the celebrated poets of the university' (Wood). He subsequently read divinity, studying among the 'Bonhommes' (a reformed order of Austin Friars introduced into England from France by the Black Prince), whose house stood on the site of Wadham College. He also applied himself to the study of medicine, and gained the reputation of 'a wise and grave man, well versed both in divinity and physic, and not only a grave orator, but a good poet' (Cole MSS. x. 76). He took the degrees of B.D. and D.D., and having become a friar of the order, 'superstitiosus monachus,' according to Bale, he 'displayed his varied learning in the publication of many books,' 'superstitiose satis.' He rose to be provincial of the Bonhommes, and became provost of the house of this order at Edington, near Westbury, Wiltshire. He held the prebendal stall of Bishopston in Salisbury Cathedral, about 1539, and became one of the residentiary canons (Jones, Fasti Eccl. Sarisb. p. 446). He obtained royal favour and was made chaplain to Henry VIII, who, on the foundation of the bishopric of Bristol, selected Bush as the first bishop of the new see (Rot. Parl. 34 Hen. VIII, p. 2). His consecration took place in the parish church of Hampton, Middlesex, on Sunday, 25 June 1542 (Strype's Cranmer, lib. i. c. 241). His consecration is erroneously placed both by Bale and Pits in the reign off Edward VI. The latter writer maliciously adds that he was appointed bishop by that protestant monarch, 'though of an adverse creed, in consequence of the dearth of learned divines among the sectaries,' and also with the hope that promotion would induce him to desert the old faith for the new. In this, says Pits, those who chose him were disappointed, inasmuch as Bush kept firm to the creed of Rome, and 'never by word or writing professes heresy' (Pits, De Illust. Angl. Script. aetat. xvi. No.997). Pits is so far correct in his last statement, that in Bush's replies to certain questions relative to 'the abuses of the mass,' proposed in 1548, he displays a strong leaning to the old faith, and in opposition to Cranmer allows of solitary masses, and masses for departed souls sung for hire. He always lays down that while every christian man ought to communicate, and no one can receive the Eucharist for another, yet one man may be spiritually benefited by others partaking. The bread and wine of consecration are 'the very body and blood of Christ.' He does not regard it as contrary to God's word that the gospel should expounded to the people at the time of mass, but is wholly opposed to discarding the Latin tongue. His answer on this point is remarkable: 'If the mass should be wholly in English, I think we should differ from the custom and manner of all other regions; therefore if it may stand with the king's majesty's pleasure. I think it not good to be said all in English. Per me Paullum Episcopum Bristollensem ' (Burnet, Hist. of Reform vol. ii. appendix No. 26, pp. 133, 147, ed. 1661, fol.) In one point, however, that of marriage, Bush showed no repugnance to the practice of the reformers. He took to wife Edith Ashley, scurrilously called by Pits his 'concubine.' She died, somewhat opportunely, three months after the accession of Mary, 8 Oct. 1553; but the fact of her death did not prevent proceedings being taken against him as a married priest. The following year, 20 March 1554, a commission, of which Gardiner and Bonner were the chief members, passed sentence of deprivation on him, the execution of which he forestalled by a voluntary resignation in the following June, when the dean and chapter of Canterbury assumed the spiritual jurisdiction of the see, 21 June 1554. He is accused of having impoverished the see by granting the manor of Leigh to Edward VI in 1549. At that time, however, bishops had little option in such matters. On his resignation Bush retired to the rectory of Winterbourne, near Bristol, which he held till his death, which occurred at the age of 68, a few days before Mary's death, 11 Oct. 1558. He was buried near the grave of his wife, on the north side of the choir of Bristol Cathedral, where his mutilated renaissance monument, bearing his effigy as a ghastly decaying corpse with a tonsured head, still stands. The inscription ends after the old fashion, 'cujus animae propitiatur Christus.' A long epitaph, now decayed, bristling with plays upon his name, is preserved by Wood and Davies, and more correctly by Cole. In his will, dated 25 Sept. 1558, and proved 1 Dec., he styles himself 'late bishop of Bristol, parson of Winterbourne.'

Bush was the author of the following works: 1. 'A Lyttell Tretyse in Englyshe called the Exposycyon of Miserere mei Deus,' London, 1525 (the date 1501 of a supposed earlier edition is impossible, as Bush was then only a boy of eleven). 2. 'Certayne Gostly Medycynes necessary to be used among wel disposed peple, to eschew and avoid the comen plage of pestilence' (Redman; no date). This is a small tract of twelve leaves containing prayers and conjurations against the plague, with some stanzas addressed to the reader at the end; the whole 'collecte and sette forth in order by the diligent labour of the religious brother, Syr Paull Bushe, prest and bonhomme of the good house Edynden.' 3. 'A Lyttell Treatyse in Englyshe called the Extripacion (sic) of Ignorancy, and it treateth and speketh of the ignorance of people, shewyng them how they are bounde to feare God ... compyled by Sir Paull Bushe, prest and bonhome of Edyndon' (Pynson, 4to, no date). This is little poetical tract 'dedicated unto the yong and most hye renouned Lady Mary, prinses and daughter unto the noble progenytour and worthy soverayne Kyng Henry Eight.' 4. 'De laudibus Crucis (no date). 5. 'Dialogus inter Christum et Mariam,' 1525. 6. 'An Exhortacyon to Margaret, wyf of John Burgess, clothier of Kingswood. in the county of Wilts, by Paul Bush, bishop of Bristol' (London, Cawood, 1554, 8vo). 7. 'Carminum diversorum liber unus.'

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. 1. 309, 370; Burnet's Hist. of Reform. vol. ii. App, 26; Pits, De Hist. Illust. Angl. Script. ætat. xvi. No. 997; Bale's Script. Bryt. p. 723, ed. Basel; Whartonn's Specimen of Errors, p. 133; Strype's Cranmer, lib. i. c. 29; Browne-Willis's Account of Bristol Cathedral, II. 777; Davies's Athen. Brit. ii. 294; Ames's Typogr. Antiq. ed. Dibdin, ii. 563, iii. 242, iv. 393; Cole MSS. i. 76; Watt's Bibl. Britan. i. 177; Lowndes's Bibliogr. Manual; Le Neve's Fasti, i. 214.]

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