Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Carleton, George (1559-1628)

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CARLETON, GEORGE (1559–1628), bishop of Chichester, son of Guy Carleton of Carleton Hall in Cumberland, was born in 1559 at Norham in Northumberland, where his father was warder of the castle there. His early education was superintended by Bernard Gilpin, the 'Apostle of the North.' In 1576 he was sent to St. Edmund Hall, Oxford; in 1579 he took his M.A., and in 1580 was elected fellow of Merton. Here he won a high reputation as a good poet and orator and a skilful disputant in theology, being well read in the fathers and schoolmen. In 1589 he became vicar of Mayfield, Sussex, which he held till 1605, and in 1618 he was made bishop of Llandaff. In the same year he was selected by the king (James I), with three other divines, to represent the church of England at the synod of Dort. Here he distinguished himself by a spirited protest against the adoption of the thirty-first article of the Belgic Confession, which affirmed 'that the ministers of the Word of God, in what place soever settled, have the same advantage of character, the same jurisdiction and authority, in regard they are all equally ministers of Christ, the only universal Bishop and Head of the Church.' Carleton maintained the doctrine of apostolical succession in opposition to this levelling article. His protest was ineffectual, but his courage and ability won the admiration of his opponents. When the English deputies returned home in the spring of 1619, the Dutch States, besides paying the expenses of their voyage and presenting each with a gold medal, sent a letter to the king in which a special commendation is made of Carleton as the foremost man of the company and a model of learning and piety. He was translated to Chichester in the same year, probably in recognition of the ability and spirit with which he had upheld the honour of the church of England in the synod. He died in May 1628. His son, Henry, represented Arundel in the parliament of 1640, and afterwards served in the parliamentary army. Camden, the antiquary, was much attached to Carleton, and speaks of him (Brit. in Northumb. p. 816) as one 'whom I have loved in regard of his singular knowledge in divinity and in other more delightful literature, and am loved again of him.' Anthony à Wood (Athenae Ox.) describes him as 'a person of solid judgment and various reading, a bitter enemy to the papists, and a severe Calvinist.' His views, however, upon the subject of election were not nearly so rigid as those of the majority in the synod of Dort, and his theology does not seem to have affected the amiability of his disposition. Fuller (Worthies p. 304) says that 'his good affections appear in his treatise entitled, "A Thankful Remembrance of God's Mercy," solid judgment in his "Confutation of Judicial Astrology," and clear invention in other juvenile exercises.' The following is a list of his works: 1. 'Heroici Characteres,' Oxon. 1603, 4to. 2. 'Consensus Ecclesiae Catholicae contra Tridentinos . . .' 1613, 8vo. 3. 'Carmen panegyricum ad Eliz. Angl. Reg.,' in vol. iii. of Nichols's 'Progresses of Queen Elizabeth,' p. 180. 4. Vita Bernardi Gilpini . . . apud Anglos Aquilonares celeberrimi,' 1628, 4to. 5. 'Life of Bernard Gilpin,' with the Sermon preached before Edward VI in 1562, London, 1636, 8vo. 6. 'Epistola ad Jacobum Sextum Brit. Regem' in the 'Miscellany of the Abbotsford Club' (i. 113), Edinburgh, 1837. 7. 'Tithes examined and proved to be due to the Clergie by a Divine Right,' 1606, 4to, second edit. 1611. 8. 'Jurisdiction Regall, Episcopall, papall,' 1610, 4to. 9. 'Directions to know the True Church,' 1615, 8vo. 10. 'An Oration made at the Hague before the Prince of Orange and the States Generall of the United Provinces,' 1619, 4to. 11. 'A Thankfull Remembrance of God's Mercy in an Historicall Collection of the . . . Deliverances of the Church and State of England . . . from the beginning of Q. Elizabeth,' London, 1624, 4to. Several editions. 12. 'Ἀστρολογομανία, the Madnesse of Astrologes; or, an Examination of Sir Christopher Heydon's Booke, intituled, "A Defence of Judiciarie Astrologie,"' London, 1624, 4to. 13. 'An Examination of those Things wherein the Author of the late "Appeale" holdeth the Doctrine of the Church of the Pelasgians and Arminians to be the Doctrines of the Church of England,' London, 1626, 4to. 14. 'His Testimony concerning the Presbyterian Discipline in the Low Countries and Episcopall Government here in England,' London, 1642, 8vo.

[Wood's Athenae Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 422; Fuller's Worthies; Collier's Eccles. Hist. vii. 408-15, and Records in vol. ix. No. 307; Dallaway's Sussex; Stephens's Memorials of South Saxon See, pp. 267-9.]

W. R. W. S.