Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Whately, William

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WHATELY, WILLIAM (1583–1639), puritan divine, son of Thomas Whately, twice mayor of Banbury, Oxfordshire, and Joyce, his wife, was born at Banbury on 21 May 1583. At fourteen he entered Christ's College, Cambridge, where he had Thomas Potman for his tutor. He graduated B.A. in 1601, having won notice as a logician and orator. He left Cambridge with decided puritan opinions to continue theological study at home, and married Martha, daughter of George Hunt, fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, and for fifty-one years rector of Collingbourne Ducis, Wiltshire. At the instigation of his father-in-law (son of John Hunt, a puritan, condemned to be burnt by Queen Mary, but reprieved by her death), he repaired to Oxford to study for the ministry, and was incorporated at St. Edmund Hall on 15 July 1602 (Reg. of Univ. of Oxford, ed. Clark, ii. i. 366). He graduated M.A. on 26 June 1604, was soon after chosen lecturer in his native town, and was instituted on 9 Feb. 1610, on the king's presentation, to the vicarage of Banbury, where, although at first considered too puritan, he was soon much liked. His ‘able body and sound lungs’ (he was called ‘the Roaring Boy of Banbury’), added to his reputation for ‘matter, method, elocution, and pronunciation’ (Life of Harris, by W. D.), attracted ‘great wits’ and persons of many persuasions to come out from Oxford to hear him. With other ministers he delivered lectures at Stratford-on-Avon. By the publication of ‘A Bride-Bvsh; or a Direction for Married Persons. Plainely describing the Dvties common to both, and peculiar to each of them’ (London, 1619, 4to; republished 1623; Bristol, 1768, 12mo; translated into Welsh, Llanrwst, 1834, 8vo), in which he propounded that ‘the sin of adultery or wilfull desertion dissolveth the bond and annihilateth the covenant of matrimonie,’ Whately raised a storm of opposition in the church. He was convened before the high commission, but, retracting his propositions on 4 May 1621, was dismissed. To the second edition of ‘The Bride Bush’ (1623) he appended an address to the reader ‘from him that had rather confesse his owne error than make thee erre for company;’ and again in ‘A Care Cloth’ he denied his former opinion. Whately died at Banbury on 10 May 1639. He was buried in the churchyard under a raised monument, now destroyed, but the remarkable inscription is preserved by a copy made on 13 July 1660 (Harl. MS. 4170).

The people of Banbury held Whately in high esteem, a fact referred to ironically by Richard Corbet [q. v.], successively bishop of Norwich and Oxford, in his ‘Iter Boreale,’ written about 1625, where he says, referring to the neglected condition of the church:

    If not for God's, for Mr. Wheatlye's sake,
    Levell the walkes; suppose these pitt falls make
    Him spraine a lecture, or misplace a joynt
    In his long prayer, or his fiveteenth point.

Whately's engraved portrait is prefixed to the posthumous volume of sermons issued by his executors, Henry Scudder and Edward Leigh.

By his wife, Martha Hunt (buried at Banbury on 10 Dec. 1641), Whately had two sons—William (d. 24 Jan. 1647), perhaps identical with William Whately, mayor of Banbury; and Thomas, vicar of Sutton-under-Brailes, Warwickshire, whence he was ejected in 1662; he afterwards preached at Milton, Woodstock, and Long Combe, Oxfordshire, and was buried at Banbury on 27 Jan. 1698 (Calamy, ed. Palmer, iii. 350). An engraved portrait is prefixed to his ‘Prototypes.’

Whately was also author of: 1. ‘The Redemption of Time,’ London, 1606, 12mo. 2. ‘A Caveat for the Covetous,’ London, 1609, 12mo. 3. ‘The New Birth,’ London, 1618, 4to; 2nd edit. 1622, 4to. 4. ‘God's Husbandry,’ London, 1622, 8vo; republished London, 1846, 12mo. 5. ‘A Pithie, Short, and Methodicall opening of the Ten Commandements,’ London, 1622, 8vo. 6. ‘Mortification,’ London, 1623, 4to. 7. ‘Charitable Teares,’ London, 1623, 4to. 8. ‘A Care-Cloth; or a Treatise of the Cvmbers and Troubles of Marriage,’ London, 1624. 9. ‘Sinne no more,’ London, 1628, 4to (a rare sermon, preached upon the occasion of a fire which on Sunday, 2 March 1628, destroyed almost the whole of Banbury town). 10. ‘The Poore Man's Advocate,’ London, 1637, 8vo. 11. ‘The Oyle of Gladness, or Comfort for Dejected Sinners,’ London, 1637, 8vo. 12. ‘Prototypes’ (posthumous), London, 1640, fol.; 2nd edit. 1647, fol.

Whately's library, catalogued by Edward Millington (London, 1683, 4to), was sold at Bridge's coffee-house in Pope's Head Alley on 23 April 1683; but Scudder tells us that, although a great reader, Whately did not own many books, having the run of a bookseller's shop in Banbury.

[Scudder's Life of Whately, prefixed to ‘Prototypes;’ Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 638; Brook's Lives of the Puritans, ii. 436; Fuller's Worthies, ii. 220, 232; Mede's Works, 3rd ed. fol. 1672, p. xxxvii; Beesley's Hist. of Banbury, containing the best account of him; Durham's Life of Robert Harris, 1660; Granger's Biogr. Hist. ii. 190; Macray's Reg. Magd. Coll. ii. 195; Bodleian Catalogue; Clarke's Marrow of Ecclesiastical History, 1675, p. 460.]

C. F. S.