Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Powell, Gabriel
POWELL or POWEL, GABRIEL (1576–1611), polemical divine, son of David Powell [q. v.], was born at Ruabon, Denbighshire, and baptised on 13 Jan. 1575–1576. He entered at Jesus College, Oxford, in Lent term 1592, and graduated B.A. on 13 Feb. 1595–6. On 2 March 1604–5, being then of St. Mary Hall, and having spent some time in foreign universities, he supplicated for the degree of B.D., but it is not known whether he obtained it. He is said to have been master of the grammar school at Ruthin, Denbighshire, founded by Gabriel Goodman [q. v.], but this seems an error. From 1601 to 1607 he held the sinecure rectory of Llansaintffraid-yn-Mechan, Montgomeryshire. Apparently in 1605 he left Oxford to be domestic chaplain to Richard Vaughan, D.D., bishop of London. In 1606 he became rector of Chellesworth, Suffolk, a crown living. As Vaughan died on 30 March 1607, Wood is in error in attributing Powell's next preferment to his patronage. He was collated on 14 Oct. 1609 to the prebend of Portpool in St. Paul's, by Thomas Ravis [q. v.], bishop of London, and on 15 Oct. 1610 he was admitted vicar of Northolt, Middlesex (then called Northall), by George Abbot, bishop of London. He died in 1611; the exact date is not known, but his successor was admitted to the living on 18 Dec. Wood erroneously supposed that he died in 1607.
Powell's death in his thirty-sixth year cut short a career of great promise and considerable achievement. ‘He was esteemed a prodigie of learning,’ says Wood, and his writings show that he could use it with effect. In power of argument and in command of clear terse expression he ranks high among the polemical divines of his time. It is not easy to account for Wood's blunder in styling him ‘a stiff puritan.’ This classification is adopted by Brook, evidently without examination of his works. Hanbury, going to the other extreme, accuses him of ‘infuriated bigotry’ against the puritans. Holding that ‘the church of England is Christ's true church,’ and that ‘there is no salvation out of the church,’ Powel was equally opposed to the toleration of ‘your Romish church’ as ‘antichrist,’ ‘not catholike,’ but consisting of ‘idolaters and heretikes,’ and to the toleration of the ‘fanatical conceits’ of such as scrupled at ‘the cross and surplice, and such other laudable ceremonies.’ He rejected the term protestant, ‘a name given to certaine Germaines, that protested against … matters certes, that touch us nothing, which never joined with them in protestation’ (see his Supplication, 1604). He was the trenchant antagonist of William Bradshaw (1571–1618) [q. v.] himself the antagonist of the separating section of puritans. In reference to Christ's descent into hell, he opposed the transitional views of Thomas Bilson [q. v.]
He published: 1. ‘The Resolved Christian,’ &c., 3rd edit., 1602, 8vo. 2. ‘Prodromvs. A Logicall Resolvtion of the I. Chap. … vnto the Romanes,’ &c., Oxford, 1602, 8vo (the dedication to Archbishop Whitgift and William Morgan, bishop of St. Asaph, is dated ‘From St. Marie-Hall the 5 of Julie, A.D. 1602;’ the book was meant as a first instalment of a comment on all the epistles, in English and Latin); in Latin, Oxford, 1615, 8vo. 3. ‘The Catholikes Svpplication,’ &c., 1603, 4to (anon.); enlarged, with title ‘The Svpplication of Certaine Masse-Priests,’ &c., 1604, 4to; another edition, with title ‘A Consideration of the Papists Reasons … for a Toleration,’ &c., Oxford, 1604, 4to. 4. ‘Disputationum Theologicarum de Antichristo libri duo,’ 1604–5, 8vo; bk. ii., 1606, 8vo (Wood specifies five errors of Powell respecting the Oxford standing of writers against Rome). 5. ‘The Vnlawfvlnesse and Danger of Toleration,’ &c., 1605, 4to. 6. ‘A Refvtation of an Epistle Apologetical, written by a Puritan-Papist,’ &c., 1605, 4to (this, and the two following, against Bradshaw). 7. ‘A Consideration of the Deprived and Silenced Ministers' Arguments,’ &c. 1606, 4to (he states that he wrote this at the command of ‘some in authority,’ referring probably to Vaughan and John Buckeridge [q. v.]). 8. ‘A Reioynder to the Myld Defence,’ &c., 1606, 4to. 9. ‘De Adiaphoris Theses,’ &c., 1606, 8vo; in English by T. J. of Oxford (?Thomas Jackson, 1579–1640 [q. v.]), as ‘Theological and Scholastical Positions concerning … Things Indifferent,’ &c., 1607, 4to (added is a reprint of No. 8). Wood mentions a ‘Comment on the Decalogue,’ 8vo, which he had not seen. Powel prefixed some verses to William Vaughan's ‘The Golden-Grove Moralised,’ 1600. On his title-pages his name is spelled Powel, though Wood gives it as Powell.[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 24 seq., 308; Wood's Fasti (Bliss), i. 269, 303; Brook's Lives of the Puritans, 1813, ii. 211 seq.; Hanbury's Hist. Memorials relating to the Independents, 1839, i. 128, 186; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714, iii. 1190.]