Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Winniffe, Thomas
WINNIFFE, THOMAS (1576–1654), bishop of Lincoln, born and baptised at Sherborne, Dorset, in 1576, was son of John Winniffe (1540?–1630), who was buried on 28 Sept. 1630 in Lambourne church, Essex (Addit. MS. 6994, f. 186b). He matriculated from Exeter College, Oxford, on 22 Feb. 1593-4, and was elected fellow in 1595; he graduated B.A. on 12 July 1598, M.A. on 17 May 1601, B.D. on 27 March 1610, and D.D. on 5 July 1610, being incorporated in that degree at Cambridge in 1628. In August 1605 he was one of those who disputed in moral philosophy before James I, his queen, and Prince Henry on the occasion of their visit to Oxford (Nichols, Progresses of James I, i. 536). He is said to have been subsequently chaplain to Prince Henry, though his name does not appear in Birch's list of the prince's chaplains. On 5 May 1608 he was admitted to the rectory of Willingale-Doe, Essex, and on 15 June following to that of Lambourne in the same county, and on 30 June 1609 he resigned his fellowship at Exeter, having livings above the statutable value.
After Prince Henry's death Winniffe became chaplain to Prince Charles, but on 7 April 1622, when the Spaniards were overrunning the Palatinate, he gave offence by a sermon denouncing Gondomar, and comparing Spinola with the devil (Birch, Court of James I, ii. 304; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1619-23, p. 376). He was sent to the Tower, but repented and appealed to the Spanish and imperial ambassadors, at whose intercession he was released a few days later. On 17 Sept. 1624 he was nominated dean of Gloucester, being installed on 10 Nov. following. He remained chaplain to Charles after his accession, and on 8 April 1631 was nominated dean of St. Paul's in succession to Dr. John Donne (1573-1681) [q. v.], who bequeathed him 'the picture called the "Skeleton," which hangs in the hall;' he was also one of the three to whom Donne is said to have left his 'religious MSS.' (Gosse, Life of Donne, 1899, ii. 295, 298, 360). Winniffe was elected dean of St. Paul's on 18 April; he also held the prebend of Mora in that cathedral. On 15 March 1633-4 he took the oath as an ecclesiastical commissioner.
On the translation of Bishop John Williams (1582-1650) [q. v.] from Lincoln to York on 4 Dec. 1641, Winniffe was selected to succeed him. The nomination is said to have been intended to gratify parliament on the ground of Winniffe's alleged puritan tendencies; but on 30 Dec. Francis Rous [q. v.] moved in the House of Commons for the postponement of Winniffe's consecration 'till a settled government in religion be established in this kingdom' (Speech of Francis Rowse, London, 1642, 4to), and Winniffe's house ia Westminster is said to have been destroyed by a mob, whose leader, Sir Richard Wiseman, was killed. He was elected on 5 Jan. 1641-2, and was consecrated on 6 Feb.; he retained the deanery of St. Paul's, but resigned his livings in Essex.
The outbreak of the civil war, however, did not leave him long in possession of his see, though according to his own account he 'was always at his house at Buckden, in parliamentary quarters, and submitted to all the ordinances, and was never charged with delinquency' (Cal. State Powers, Dom. 1654, p. 56). In November 1646 all bishops' lands were vested in trustees for the benefit of the commonwealth, and Winniffe retired to Lambourne. Early in 1654, on his petition to Cromwell, his arrears were paid up to November 1646; during his retirement he gave active assistance to Brian Walton [q . v.] in the preparation of the 'Polyglot Bible.' He died at Lambourne on 29 Sept. 1654, and was buried within the altar-rails of the church (the inscription on a mural tablet is given in Lansd. MS. 985, f. 212, Addit. MS. 5840 p. 421, and 5994 f. 186, and in Willis's Cathedrals, ii. 69; according to Smith's Obituary he died on 20 Sept.) According to Bishop Gauden 'nothing was more mild, modest, and humble, yet learned, eloquent, and honest than Bishop Winniffe' (Suspiria Eccl. Angl.1659, p. 614). He was unmarried, and gave the advowson of Lambourne, which he had purchased, to his nephew, Peter Mews [q. v.] who was educated at Winniffe's expense, and was afterwards bishop of Winchester.[Authorities cited; Wood's Athenae Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 111, 545, iii. 296, 434, 468, iv. 813, 826; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500-1714, s.v. 'Wynnyff;' Boase's Reg. Coll. Exon. pp. civ, 80, 86, 370; Le Neve's Fasti Eccl. Angl. ed. Hardy; Hennessy's Nov. Rep. Eccl. Londin. 1898; Notes and Queries, 6th ser. vi. 244; Stubbs's Reg. Sacr. Angl. ed. 1897; Hist. MSS. Comm. 13th Rep. App. ii. 121 (Duke of Portland's MSS.), and Buccleuch and Queensberry MSS. i. 291; Walker's Sufferings of the Clergy; Hutchins's Dorset, iv. 211-12, 262; Gardiner's Hist. iv. 305; Camden's Annales, s.a. 1622, and Brewer's Court and Times of James I and Charles I.]