Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Greenham, Richard
GREENHAM or GRENHAM, RICHARD (1535?–1594?), puritan divine, was probably born about 1535, and went at an unusually late age to Cambridge University, where he matriculated as a sizar of Pembroke Hall on 27 May 1559. He graduated B.A. early in 1564, and was elected fellow, proceeding M.A. in 1567. His puritanism was of a moderate type; he had scruples about the vestments, and strong views about such abuses as non-residence, but was more concerned for the substance of religion and the co-operation of all religious men within the church than for theories of ecclesiastical government. His name, 'Richardus Grenham,' is appended with twenty-one others to the letters (3 July and 11 Aug. 1570), praying Burghley, the chancellor, to reinstate Cartwright in his office as Lady Margaret's divinity reader. Neal's statement that at a subsequent period he declared his approbation of Cartwright's 'book of discipline' (1584) is somewhat suspicious, yet Strype says he was at one of Cartwright's synods.
On 24 Nov. 1570 he was instituted to the rectory of Dry Drayton, Cambridgeshire, then worth 100l. a year. He used to still preach at St. Mary's, Cambridge, where he reproved young divines for engaging in ecclesiastical controversies, as tantamount to rearing a roof before laying a foundation. In his parish he preached frequently, choosing the earliest hours of the morning, 'so soon as he could well see,' in order to gather his rustics to sermon before the work of the day. He devoted Sunday evenings and Thursday mornings to catechizing. He had some divinity pupils, including Henry Smith (1560-91), known as 'silver-tongu'd Smith.' During a period of dearth, when barley was ten groats a bushel, he devised a plan for selling corn cheap to the poor, no family being allowed to buy more than three pecks in a week. He cheapened his straw, preached against the public order for lessening the capacity of the bushel, and got into trouble by refusing to let the clerk of the market cut down his measure with the rest. By this unworldliness his finances were kept so low that his wife had to borrow money to pay his harvestmen. Richer livings were steadily declined by him. Nevertheless he was not appreciated by his flock; his parish remained 'poore and peevish;' his hearers were for the most part 'ignorant
and obstinate.' 'Hence,' says Fuller, 'the verses:
Greenham had pastures green,
But sheep full lean.'
He was cited for nonconformity by Richard Cox [q. v.], bishop of Ely, who, knowing his aversion to schism, asked him whether the guilt of it lay with conformists or with nonconformists. Greenham answered that, if both parties acted in a spirit of concord, it would lie with neither; otherwise with those who made the rent. Cox gave him no further trouble. His 'Apologie or Aunswere' is in 'A Parte of a Register ' (1593), p. 86 sq. On the appearance of the Mar-Prelate tracts (1589) he preached against them at St. Mary's, on the ground that their tendency was 'to make sin ridiculous, whereas it ought to be made odious.'
His friends were anxious to get him to London 'for the general good.' He resigned his living about 1591, having held it some twenty or twenty-one years. He told Warfield, his successor, 'I perceive noe good wrought by my ministerie on any but one familie.' Clarke says he went to London about 1588 or 1589, but this conflicts with his other data. He soon tired of a 'planetary' occupation of London pulpits, repented of leaving Drayton, and at last settled as preacher at Christ Church, Newgate.
In 1592 (if Marsden is right) appeared his 'Treatise of the Sabboth,' of which Fuller says that 'no book in that age made greater impression on peoples practice.' The second of two sonnets (1599) on Greenham by Joseph Hall [q. v.], afterwards bishop of Norwich, is a graceful tribute, often quoted, to the merit as well as to the popularity of the work. It was the earliest and wisest of the puritan treatises on the observance of the Lord's day. It is much more moderate than the 'Sabbathvm' (1595) of his step-son Nicholas Bownde [q. v.], who borrows much from Greenham.
Clarke says Greenham died about 1591, in about his sixtieth year. Fuller, whose father was 'well acquainted' with Greenham, says his death was unrecorded, because he died of the plague which raged in 1592. This ill agrees with Clarke's statement that, 'being quite worn out, he comfortably and quietly' died. It is mentioned by Waddington that on 2 April 1593 Greenham visited John Penry in the Poultry compter. Henry Holland, who had known him many years, says that Greenham 'the day before his departure out of this life' was 'troubled, for that men were so vnthankfull for that strange and happie deliuerance of our most gracious Queene;' the margination has 'D. Lopes;' he must therefore have survived the affair of Lopez, February-June 1594. 'No sooner,' adds Holland, was he 'gone from vs, but some respecting gaine, and not regarding godlinesse, attempted forthwith to publish some fragments of his workes.' The date of these pieces ('A most sweete and assured Comfort' and 'Two … Sermons') is 1595. It is therefore probable that his death took place in the latter part of 1594. He was of short stature and troubled with a bad digestion. In preaching he perspired so excessively that he had always to change his linen on coming from the pulpit. Throughout the year he rose for study at four o'clock. He married the widow of Robert Bownde, M.D., physician to the Duke of Norfolk, but had no issue; his step-daughter, Anne Bownde, was the first wife of John Dod [q. v.]
Greenham's 'Workes' were collected and edited by H.H., i.e. Henry Holland, in 1599, 4to; a second edition appeared in the same year; the third edition was 1601, fol., reprinted 1605 and 1612 ('fift and last' edition). 'A Garden of Spiritual Flowers,' by Greenham, was published 1612, 8vo, and several times reprinted, till 1687, 4to. It is very doubtful whether Greenham himself published anything, or left anything ready for the press. Of his 'Treatise of the Sabboth,' which had 'been in many hands for many yeeres,' Holland found 'three verie good copies,' and edited the best. It was originally a sermon or sermons; and the remaining works (excepting a catechism) are made up from sermon matter, with some additions from Greenham's conversation. They show much study of human nature, and are full of instances of shrewd judgment.[Fullers Church Hist. of Britain, 1655, ix. 219; Clarke's Lives of Thirty-two English Divines (at the end of a General Martyrologie), 1677, pp. 12 sq., 169 sq.; Brook's Lives of the Puritans, 1813, i. 415 sq.; Neal's Hist. of the Puritans, 1822, i. 281, 387; Strype's Aylmer, 1821, p. 100; Whitgift, 1822, p. 6; Annals, 1824, ii. (2) 415, 417, iii. (1) 720, iv. 607; Waddington's John Penry, 1854, p. 123; Marsden's Hist. of the Early Puritans, 1860, p. 248; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. 1861, ii. 103, 143 sq., 356, 546; Notes and Queries, 6th ser. vii. 366, viii. 55.]