Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gunton, Simon

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GUNTON, SIMON (1609–1676), divine and antiquary, son of William Gunton of Peterborough, Northamptonshire, by Ellen his wife, was baptised in St. John's Church in that town, 30 Dec. 1609. His father was registrar of the diocese, having been elected 13 March 1616 (Kennett, Register, pp. 218, 229). Simon was educated at Magdalene College. Cambridge, as a member of which he graduated B.A. in 1630-1, proceeding M.A. in 1634 (University Register). Then taking orders he became vicar of Pytchley, Northamptonshire, 14 Oct. 1637, and on 12 Nov. 1646 was collated, but without effect, to the first prebend of Peterborough. During the civil war he found a retreat in the household of James Stuart, duke of Richmond and Lennox, as we learn from the dedication to the little duke Esme of his 'God's House, with the nature and use thereof, as it ought to be understood and respected by Christians under the Gospel,' 8vo, London, 1657. After the Restoration in 1660 he took possession of his prebend, and on 24 Sept. of the same year was presented to the vicarage of Peterborough. He soon afterwards obtained an act in augmentation of the living. The following year he published another little manual entitled 'Όρθολατρεία: or, a brief Discourse concerning Bodily Worship: proving it to be God's due,' 8vo, London, 1661. In December 1666 he resigned the vicarage of Peterborough to become rector of Fiskerton, Lincolnshire, where he died and was buried 17 May 1676 (Willis, Survey of Cathedrals, 1742, iii. 516-17). By his wife, Susannah Dickenson, of Peterborough, he had several children. During his boyhood, as he himself states in a letter to Joseph Henshaw, bishop of the diocese, Gunton took copies of the inscriptions on the monuments in Peterborough cathedral, many of which were defaced by the parliamentary troops. He had also through his father's position unlimited access to the cathedral archives before they were in turn destroyed. Ten years after his death his collections, revised and augmented with an appendix of charters and privileges and a supplement by Simon Patrick [q. v.] were published as 'The History of the Church of Peterburgh: wherein the most remarkable Things concerning that Place, from the first Foundation thereof: With other Passages of History, not unworthy publick view are represented. . . . Illustrated with Sculptures,' fol., London, 1686. White Kennett afterwards bishop of Peterborough, wrote large additions in a copy now preserved in the cathedral library (Nichols, Lit. Anecd. i. 398; Gough, British Topography, ii. 41-2). Thomas Baker's copy with Kennett's notes and a few of his own is in the university library, Cambridge (Cat. of MSS. vi. 30); a selection appeared in the 'British Magazine,' xxxvi. 542. There are also copies with notes by Bishop Cumberland, William Cole, nd others, in the Bodleian Library, Oxford Hearne, Collections, Oxf. Hist. Soc., ii. 237, 446). The original manuscript of Patrick's 'Supplement' was acquired by the British Museum in 1859; it is Addit. MS. 22666. An 'Epitome' of Gunton's 'History' by C. Jacob, published at Peterborough in 1804, 8vo, went through several editions.

[Information kindly communicated by the Rev. Dr. Luard; Kennett's Register, passim; Addit. MS. 5828, ff. 143b-171, 172b-183 ; Bridges's Northamptonshire (Whalley), ii. 125, 545, 565.]

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