Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gilby, Anthony

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GILBY, ANTHONY (d. 1585), puritan divine, was born in Lincolnshire (Fuller, Worthies, ii. 67), and educated at Christ's College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. 1531–2, M.A. 1535 (Cooper, Athenæ Cantabr. i. 516). He entered the ministry, and early joined the ranks of the reformers, afterwards becoming one of their most acrimonious and illiberal writers, and a ‘dear disciple’ of Calvin. Fuller calls him ‘a fast and furious stickler against church discipline’ (Church Hist. bk. ix. p. 76). He was a learned man, a good classical scholar, and a student of Hebrew. Besides translating commentaries of Calvin and Theodore Beza, he wrote two original commentaries on Micah (London, 1551, containing a prayer for the king, 1547) and Malachi (no date, London). His first controversial work was a reply to Gardiner's work on the sacrament of the altar, entitled ‘An Answer to the Devilish Detection of Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester … Compiled by A. G. anno 1547, the 24th of January,’ London, 1547–8, 8vo. That he had held a living in Leicestershire is shown by his ‘Epistle of a Banished Man out of Leicestershire, sometime one of the Preachers of God's Word there,’ prefixed to Knox's ‘Faithful Admonition,’ which was published abroad in 1554. On Mary's accession Gilby fled from England with his wife and children, and was one of the first of the exiles who took refuge at Frankfort (1554).

At Frankfort Gilby entertained Foxe the martyrologist. He took a prominent part in the quarrel with Dr. Cox over the communion service, and retired with Whittingham, Knox, and other leading reformers to Geneva in 1555. In September Christopher Goodman [q. v.] and Knox were made pastors of the new congregation, and, Knox being absent in France, Gilby was chosen to fill his place (Troubles at Frankfort, Phenix, ii. 44). He took part in the Geneva translation of the Bible, which appeared in quarto in 1560, and also helped to compile the ‘Form of Common Order,’ used by the English congregation at Geneva. While in exile Gilby published two original works of bitter invective, and Bancroft reproaches him, with the rest of the Geneva divines, for justifying civil rebellion (Dangerous Positions, p. 50). After Mary's death he was one of the eighteen reformers who signed (15 Dec. 1558) the circular letter from Geneva to all the other exiled churches praying them to be reconciled to one another (Troubles at Frankfort; Strype, Annals, i. i. 152). He soon returned to England, where he acquired many influential friends. His chief patron, Henry, earl of Huntingdon, presented him some time before 1564 to the living of Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire. He continued to ‘roar’ against the English church (Foulis, Wicked Plots, p. 59), and published (1570, Strype, Annals, ii. i. 8; or 1566 (?), Ames (Herbert), p. 1616) ‘a very hot and bitter letter to divers ministers against the habits,’ exciting them against the bishops. This address was entitled ‘To my loving Brethren that is troubled about the Popish Apparel, two short and comfortable Epistles.’ In 1571 Archbishop Parker commanded Grindal, archbishop of York, to prosecute Gilby for nonconformity. Grindal refused, on the ostensible ground that Ashby was not in his diocese, but more probably from fear of the Earl of Huntingdon. Nicholls, who abused Gilby, insinuates that he was once summoned to Lambeth and silenced, but there is no evidence for this statement (Defence of the Church of England, ed. 1740, p. 21). Gilby replied to the charges of his superiors in a tract, written during the lifetime of Parker (who died in 1575), and published in 1578: ‘A View of Anti-Christ, his Laws and Ceremonies in our English Church, unreformed,’ &c., London, 1578. In 1572 Gilby is said to have met Wilcox, Simpson, and others privately in London, and agreed to help in the compilation of ‘An Admonition to Parliament.’ The conference resulted in two very bitter pamphlets, bound up with a letter from Beza to Leicester, which appeared after the prorogation of parliament, by ‘poor men whom the ecclesiastical authorities have made poor.’ ‘Father Gilby’ was respected for his godly life and learning at Ashby, where he lived ‘as great as a bishop’ until his death in 1585, having in December 1582 resigned his living to his son-in-law, Thomas Widdowes (Nichols, Leicestershire, iii. 619). He corresponded with some of the most celebrated divines of the day, and was on terms of great intimacy with Thomas Bentham [q. v.], bishop of Lichfield and Coventry. He had two sons and two daughters. Goddred Gilby, the elder son, who was with his father at Geneva, translated Cicero's ‘Epistle to Quintus,’ London, 1561, 12mo, and Calvin's ‘Admonition against Judicial Astrology,’ n.d. The younger, Nathaniel, of Christ's College and fellow of Emmanuel, Cambridge, was tutor to Joseph Hall [q. v.], bishop of Norwich, whose mother was one of Gilby's congregation (Hall, Works, ed. Pratt, i. 2).

Besides the works already enumerated, Gilby published:

  1. ‘A brief Treatise of Election and Reprobation,’ London, 1547 (?); reissued, along with a treatise on the same subject by Foxe, as an appendix to Beza's ‘Treasure of Trueth,’ translated by Stockwood (London, 1576).
  2. ‘An Admonition to England and Scotland to call them to repentance,’ printed with Knox's ‘Appellation,’ Geneva, 1558.
  3. ‘A Pleasant Dialogue between a Soldier of Berwick and an English Chaplain …,’ London, 8vo, 1581.
  4. ‘The Testamentes of the Twelve Patriarches,’ from the Latin of Robert Grosseteste, London, 1581, often wrongly attributed to Arthur Golding.

A letter to protestant writers, dated 10 March 1566, is prefixed, and reappears in ‘Part of a Register’ (1593), which reprints Gilby's ‘View of Anti-Christ.’ Gilby also translated Calvin's ‘Commentaries upon the Book of Daniel’ (1570: the address signed by the translator, A. G., has been erroneously attributed to Arthur Golding [q. v.]); Beza's ‘Paraphrase of the Psalms,’ 1580, and Beza's ‘Paraphrase of fourteen Holy Psalms,’ 1590.

[Authorities cited above; Strype's Life of Grindal, p. 252; Strype's Annals, I. i. 343; Life of Whitgift, i. 55; Brit. Mus. Cat. of Books before 1640.]

E. T. B.