Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Fenton, Roger

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

FENTON, ROGER, D.D. (1565–1615), born in Lancashire in 1565, was educated at Cambridge University, becoming fellow of Pembroke Hall. In 1601 he was made rector of St. Stephen's, Walbrook, and in 1603 of the neighbouring St. Benet's Sherehog. He resigned the latter in 1606, on his appointment to the vicarage of Chigwell, Essex. In 1609 he succeeded Lancelot Andrewes [q. v.] in the prebend of St. Pancras in St. Paul's, which made him rector and patron, as well as vicar, of Chigwell. He was also from an early date preacher to the readers at Gray's Inn. and held the post till his death. His first work, 'An Answer to William Alablaster his Motives,' was published in 1599, and is dedicated 'to the right worshipfull his singular good patrones the readers of Grayes Inn;' besides the dedication there is a short note in which 'the author to William Alabaster, prisoner in the Tower, wisheth health of soule and bodie.' [see Alabaster, William]. In 1611 Fenton published 'A Treatise of Usurie,' in three books; there was a second edition in 1612. In 1652 there appeared a tract entitled 'Quaestio quodlibetica, or, A discourse, whether it may bee lawfull to take use for money,' which bears the sub-title, 'An Examination of Dr. Fenton's Treatise of Usury.' The author states in his preface that Dr. Downam, Dr. Fenton and Dr. Andrewes are the most noted opponents of usury in England, but (he continues) 'I have made choice of Dr. Fenton's treatise to examine because it is latest, and I find little of any moment but is in him.' This preface is signed R. F., and has a note before it by Roger Twysden, saying that 'the peece I now give thee was written almost thirty years since by a very learned gentleman for satisfaction of one of worth and relation to him.' The author was Sir Robert Filmer [q. v.] Fenton died 16 Jan. 1615, and in 1617 his successor at Chigwell, Emmanuel Utie, published 'A Treatise against the Necessary Dependance upon that One Head and the present Reconcilation to the Church of Rome. Together with certaine sermons preached in publike assemblies.' Utie prefixes a dedication of his own to Sir Francis Bacon, in which he calls the treatise 'the Posthumus of Doctor Fenton,' but says that it lacked final revision. He seems to imply that Fenton's treatise on usury was also dedicated to Bacon, and complains that 'some after his death, bit his book of usurie by the heels . . . whose impudencie was dashed before it had scarce looked abroad by that watchfull and true evangelicall Bishop, the Diocesan of London.' The sermons in this volume are six in number, three of them having been preached before King James. Fenton was one of the popular preachers of the day; a sermon of his, 'Of Simonie and Sacriledge,' was published in 1604, from which it appears that he was at that date chaplain to Sir Thomas Egerton, the lord chancellor. Another was published in 1615, 'Upon Oathes,' preached before the Grocers' Company; and a small volume containing four more appeared in 1616. Fenton was one of the authors of the revised version of the Bible; his name occurs fourth in the list of the scholars entrusted with the Epistles of the New Testament, who met at Westminster. Utie's dedication, above mentioned, gives a description of Fenton's merits as a preacher and writer, speaking of 'that judgement which was admired of every side,' and 'the naked innocencie without affectation and the natural majestie of the stile, like a master bee without a sting.' Fenton was buried under the communion-table in St. Stephen's, Walbrook; his epitaph speaks of him as 'immatura nimio morte obrepto,' and adds that his own parish of St. Stephen's erected his monument 'ex justo sensu et sui et communis damni.' Utie mentions also the grief at his death of 'those in Grays Inne, whose hearts bled thorough their eyes when they saw him dead.'

[Newcourt's Repertorium, i. 197; Stow's Survey, ed. Strype, i. 2, 190; Wood's Fasti, i. 260; Landsdowne MS.983, Brit. Mus.; Westcott's Hist. of the English Bible. 2nd ed. p, 117.]

R. B.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.121
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
327 i 22 Fenton, Roger: for 1615) read 1616)
ii 3 for 1615 read 1615-6