Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Parkhurst, John (1512?-1576)

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PARKHURST, JOHN (1512?–1576), bishop of Norwich, born about 1512, was son of George Parkhurst of Guildford, Surrey. At an early age he entered Magdalen College School at Oxford, and subsequently joined Merton College, where he was admitted to a fellowship in 1529 after graduating B.A. (24 July 1528). He was a good classical scholar and was an adept in the composition of Latin epigrams. He took holy orders in 1532, and proceeded M.A. 19 Feb. 1532-3. While he was acting as tutor at Merton, John Jewel [q. v.], afterwards bishop of Salisbury, was his pupil; he deeply interested himself in Jewel's progress, and they remained through life the most intimate of friends (Strype, Annals, n. i. 149-50). A thoroughgoing supporter of the Reformation, Parkhurst imbued Jewel with his rigidly protestant opinions. When, in 1543, Henry VIII and Queen Catherine Parr visited Oxford, Parkhurst wrote Latin verses in their honour and became chaplain to the queen. He was already chaplain to Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk, and to his wife Katherine, and his friends included Miles Coverdale and John Aylmer. Soon afterwards he was appointed rector of Pimperne, Dorset, and in 1549 was presented by Thomas, lord Seymour, to the rich living of Cleeve Episcopi, Gloucestershire. Jewel and other Oxford scholars often visited him there, and he rarely sent them back to Oxford without gifts of money. When Jewel gave humanity lectures at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, Parkhurst went over to hear him, and declared in a Latin epigram that he was metamorphosed from a tutor into a pupil. On the accession of Queen Mary he left the country and settled at Zürich, where he was hospitably received by Rodolph Gualter and other Calvinistic divines. Returning on the accession of Elizabeth, he was robbed on the journey, which he made alone, of all his money and of 'the fair copy of his epigrams.' On 13 April 1560 he was elected bishop of Norwich, and was consecrated and installed in September following. He was created D.D. at Oxford in 1566.

The see of Norwich was thoroughly disorganised at the time of Parkhurst's appointment; many of the livings were without incumbents. But Parkhurst did not prove himself equal to the situation. His Calvinistic leanings led him to encourage nonconformist practices; he declined to stay 'prophesyings' in his diocese (ib. p. 326), and, although he drew up a careful report of its condition in 1563, and prosecuted papists with some vigour, he took no steps to remedy the disorders with which the diocese abounded. He was hospitable, genial, and extravagant in private life. In 1572, shortly before his death, he lost much money by the dishonesty of a servant, who had converted to his own use the 'tenths' due to the exchequer from the diocese. In order that he might be able to refund the amount, Parkhurst removed from the bishop's palace, which he had elaborately repaired, to a small house at Ludham. To prevent the recurrence of such frauds as those which had crippled his resources, Parkhurst introduced a bill into parliament which was accepted by the government (ib. pp. 330 sq.) He died on 2 Feb. 1574-5, aged 63, and was buried in the nave of his cathedral on the south side, between the eighth and ninth pillars. A monument marks the spot. Elegies by Rodolph Gualter and his son were published at Zürich in 1576, in a rare tract which was dedicated to Edwin Sandys, bishop of London (Brit. Mus.) The title runs, 'In D. Ioannis Parkhvrsti Episcopi Nordouicensis in Anglia dignissimi obitum Epicedia Rodolphi Gvalteri Tigurini, Patris et Filii. Excvdebat Christoph. Frosch. Anno. m.d.lxxvi.'

Parkhurst married Margaret, daughter of Thomas Garnish of Kenton, Suffolk, but left no issue.

Parkhurst published in the year before his death a collection of Latin epigrams which he had composed in his youth, and which were prepared for publication, as the preface states, at Zürich in 1558 (cf. Strype, Annals, ii. i. 344 sq.) They have been unjustly described as matching Martial in obscenity. Though a few of them deal with topics which bishops usually deem unfitting to notice, the majority are eulogies or epitaphs on friends, and offend only by their tameness. Verses by Thomas Wilson, Alexander Nowell, Bartholomew Traheron, Lawrence Humphrey, and others, are prefixed. The title of the volume runs: 'Ioannis Parkhursti Ludicra sive Epigrammata Juvenilia, Londini apud Johannem Dayum Typographum, 1573,' 4to. A few are translated in Timothy Kendall's 'Flowres of Epigrammes,' 1577. Parkhurst is commonly credited with another volume, 'Epigrammata Seria,' London, 1560, 8vo, of which no copy is known. The theory of its existence seems to rest on a confused interpretation of the preface to the extant book of epigrams which is dated 1558. He contributed to the collection of 'Epigrammata in mortem duorum fratrum Suffolcensium Caroli et Henrici Brandon,' London, 1552, 4to, and to John Sheepreeve's 'Summa. . .Novi Testamenti disticis ducentis sexaginta comprehensa,' Strasburg, 1556, 8vo. The translation of the 'Apocrypha ' in the bible of 1572 is also ascribed to him (Strype, Parker, ii. 222). Bale dedicated to him, in a eulogistic address, his 'Reliques of Rome' in 1563.

Some of his papers dealing with the regulation of his diocese are in the Cambridge University Library (E.e. ii. 34).

[Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Blomefield's Norfolk, iii. 553; Wood's Athenae Oxon., ed. Bliss, i. 412 sq.; Jessopp's Diocese of Norwich, pp. 172-4; Fuller's Worthies, ed. Nuttall, iii. 208-9; Foxe's Actes and Monuments; Strype's Annals, Memorials, and Life of Parker, passim.]

S. L.