Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Field, Theophilus

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

FIELD, THEOPHILUS (1574–1636), bishop of Hereford, eldest son of the Rev. John Field (1519?–1588), was born in the parish of St. Giles's, Cripplegate, London, and baptised there 22 Jan. 1574. He was brother of Nathaniel Field, the actor [q. v.] He was educated at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, of which he was elected a fellow on 9 Oct. 1598. In 1599 he proceeded M.A., and was incorporated at Oxford 16 July 1600 (Wood, Athenæ Oxon., ed. Bliss, i. 536, ii. 882; Fasti Oxon. i. 288). He subsequently became B.D. and D.D. In 1610 he was ‘vicar of Mashfield, Sussex’ (Mayfield vicarage or Maresfield rectory may be meant); he was also rector of Cotton, Suffolk, and became vicar of Lydd, Kent, in 1611 (Hasted, Kent, fol. edit. iii. 517). The king appointed him one of his chaplains, and he acted in the same capacity to Bacon when lord chancellor (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1619–23, p. 238). John Chamberlain, in a letter to Carleton, dated 2 June 1619, describes Field as ‘a sort of broker’ for the chancellor in his peculations (ib. Dom. 1619–23, p. 260). It is evident that he took no very exalted view of his profession, nor ever troubled himself much about its duties. By the interest of the Duke of Buckingham he was consecrated bishop of Llandaff on 10 Oct. 1619 (Le Neve, Fasti, ed. Hardy, ii. 253), but being dissatisfied with the smallness of the revenue he pestered the duke with letters, urging his poverty, his having a wife and six children to maintain, and vowing to spend his blood for him if he would get him a better bishopric, such as Hereford (Willis, Survey of Cathedrals, ii. 526–7). In 1621 Field was impeached by the commons for brocage and bribery before his promotion, on the accusation of one Edward Egerton. His defence as regards the charge of bribery was deemed satisfactory by the lords, ‘but as it was not a fitting thing for a clergyman to be concerned in a brocage of such a nature, the house,’ says Carte, ‘required the Archbishop of Canterbury to give him an admonition as doctor Field, not as bishop of Llandaff, in the Convocation house, which was done accordingly’ (Hist. of England, iv. 77–8). Despite this check Field still persevered in his suit to Buckingham, and as the result of a letter written in August 1627 (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1627–8, p. 326) he was translated to the see of St. David's in the following September (Le Neve, i. 302–3). Though his income was thus quadrupled, he found the air of his new diocese to disagree with him. When asked by the king why he lingered on at Broad Sanctuary, Westminster, he gave as the reasons ‘want of health and means of recovery in that desolate place, his diocese, where there is not so much as a leech to cure a sick horse’ (Letter to Endymion Porter, dated 31 Oct. 1629, in Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1629–31, p. 84). However, in 1630 he managed to hold a visitation of the chapter, in which he solemnly confirmed the acts and statutes of his predecessors, and then, in due form, by and with the consent of the chapter, decreed that his cathedral should be whitewashed (Jones and Freeman, History of St. David's, p. 171). On 15 Dec. 1635 Field reached the summit of his ambition by being elected bishop of Hereford (Le Neve, i. 471). He died on 2 June 1636, and was buried at the east end of the north aisle in Hereford Cathedral. Against the north wall, under a canopy lined with ermine, and supported by two angels, is a bust of him in his pontificals, and in the attitude of preaching (Duncumb, Herefordshire, i. 574–5). His will, bearing date 31 July 1635, was proved on 26 July 1636 by his widow, Alice (registered in P. C. C. 82, Pile). He wrote, says Wood, ‘A Christian Preparation to the Lord's Supper,’ 8vo, 1624, ‘besides several sermons and other things’ (Fasti, i. 288–9). He contributed to and apparently edited ‘An Italian's dead bodie stucke with English Flowers. Elegies on the death of Sir Oratio Pallavicino,’ London, 1600. Poor commendatory verses by him are prefixed to Sir John Stradling's ‘Divine Poemes,’ 1625 (Wood, Athenæ Oxon. ii. 397).

[Authorities cited above; State Trials (Cobbett), vol. ii.; Gent. Mag. 1851, pt. i. 237.]

G. G.