Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Calfhill, James

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 08
Calfhill, James by no contributor recorded

CALFHILL, JAMES (1530?–1570), bishop-elect of Worcester (called also Calfield), was a native of Edinburgh (Strype, Grindal, p. 54), or of Shropshire, according to various accounts. He was educated at Eton, entered King's College, Cambridge, in 1545, and in 1548 was appointed a student of the new foundation of Christ Church, Oxford. He was B.A. 1549, M.A. 1552, B.D. 1561, and D.D. 1565–6. During Mary's reign he published some Latin verses in reply to some composed by Bishop White of Lincoln, in honour of the queen's marriage. He was ordained deacon on 14 Jan. 1558–9, and in the same month instituted to the rectory of West Horsley, Surrey. He took priest's orders on 9 June 1560, and became canon of Christ Church on 5 July following. In May 1562 he became rector of St. Andrew Wardrobe, London, and was proctor both for the clergy of London and the chapter of Oxford in the convocation of 1563, where he belonged to the more advanced protestant party. On 14 Dec. 1562 he was presented by the queen to the penitentiaryship of St. Paul's and the annexed prebend of St. Pancras. On 18 Feb. 1563–4 he was appointed Lady Margaret professor of divinity at Oxford. On 4 May 1565 he was collated to the deanery of Bocking, Essex, by Archbishop Parker, and on 16 July became archdeacon of Colchester. He applied unsuccessfully to secretary Cecil for the provostship of King's College, Cambridge, in 1569. In 1570 he was nominated to the bishopric of Worcester, vacant by the translation of Edwin Sandys to London, but died in August at Bocking before consecration. He left a widow, to whom administration of his effects was granted on 21 Aug. 1570.

Calfhill is said to have been a cousin of Tobie Matthew, afterwards archbishop of York, whom he persuaded to take orders (Strype). He appears to have been an elegant scholar, a forcible preacher, and a staunch Calvinist. A friend of Foxe praises an eloquent sermon preached by him at St. Paul's Cross in January 1560–1, bewailing the bondage of Oxford to the ‘papistical yoke.’ Walter Haddon complained to Archbishop Parker in July 1564 of a very offensive sermon preached by him before the queen, and in 1568 he preached two sermons at Bristol in defence of Calvin, against Richard Cheyney [q. v.], bishop of Gloucester, who then held Bristol in commendam. The bishop complains that Calfhill would not sup with him afterwards. His chief work was an ‘Answer to the Treatise of the Crosse’ (by John Martiall, who had dedicated his book to Queen Elizabeth upon hearing that she had retained the cross in her chapel. Martiall replied, and was answered by William Fulke), 1565. It was edited for the Parker Society by the Rev. Richard Gibbings in 1846. He also wrote: 1. ‘Querela Oxoniensis academiæ ad Cantabrigam’ (a Latin poem on the death of Henry and Charles Brandon), 1552. 2. ‘Historia de exhumatione Catherinæ nuper uxoris Pet. Martyris’ (included in a volume of pieces relating to Martin Bucer, edited by Conrade Hubert in 1562). It includes two Latin poems and two epigrams by Calfhill on the same occasion. Calfhill superintended the reinterment of Catharine Bucer's remains at Christ Church (Foxe, Acts and Mon. viii. 297). 3. ‘Poemata varia.’ He left in manuscript a ‘concio’ on occasion of his B.D. degree, now in the library of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and ‘Sapientiæ Solomonis liber carmine redditus,’ dedicated to Queen Elizabeth, 15 May 1559, now in the British Museum (Royal MSS. 2 D ii.).

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss) i. 378; Biog. Brit. (Kippis); Cooper's Athenæ Cantab. i. 285; Le Neve's Fasti, ii. 342, 424, 519, iii. 65, 518; Newcourt's Repertorium, i. 92, 196, 272, ii. 69; Herbert's Ames, pp. 925, 1619; Parker Correspondence, p. 218; Cole MSS. xii. 161, xiv. 96; Manning and Bray's Surrey, iii. 44; Nichols's Progr. Eliz. (1823), i. 230, 243; Strype's Annals, I. i. 262, 353, 493, pt. ii. 200; State Papers, Dom. (1547–80), pp. 175, 242, 278; Boase's Register, p. 216.]