Greenwood, John (d.1593) (DNB00)

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GREENWOOD, JOHN (d. 1593), independent divine, matriculated as a sizar at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, on 18 March 1577-8, and graduated B.A. in 1580-1. He does not appear to have taken any further degree, though he is sometimes styled M.A. He entered the church, and was ordained deacon by Aylmer, bishop of London, and priest by the Bishop of Lincoln. He was previously to 1582 employed by Robert Wright to say service at Rochford, Essex, in the house of Lord Robert Rich, who was a leader of the puritans. He was already described as 'a man known to have given over the ministry' (Strype, Annals, iii. 124) Afterwards he became connected with Henry Barrow [q. v.] In the autumn of 1586 Greenwood was arrested in the house of one Henry Martin at St. Andrew's in the Wardrobe in London, while holding a private conventicle, and was imprisoned in the Clink, Southwark, where he was visited on 19 Nov. by Barrow, who was consequently arrested. Greenwood appeared before Archbishop Whitgift, Aylmer, and others, and underwent a long examination, in the course of which he denied the scriptural authority of the English church and of episcopal government (Examination, pp. 22-5). Paule (Life of Whitgift, §§ 66, 67, ed. 1612) says that 'upon show of conformity Greenwood and Barrow were enlarged upon bonds, but all in vain; for after their liberties they burst forth into further extremities, and were again committed to the Fleet, 20 July 1588 [1587].' After an imprisonment of thirty weeks in the Clink they were, according to the account given by Baker (MS. Harl. 7041, f. 311), removed under a habeas corpus to the Fleet, where they 'lay upon an execution of two hundred and sixty pounds apiece.' In March 1589 Greenwood held conferences with Archdeacon Hutchinson at the Fleet; the sum of them was printed in 'A Collection of certaine Sclanderous Articles,' 1589. Greenwood was kept in prison over four years (Hanbury, Memorials, i. 59). Together with his fellow-prisoners, Barrow and John Penry, he employed himself in writing various books, which were smuggled out of the prison in fragments, and printed in the Netherlands [see more fully under Barrow, Henry]. In 1592 Greenwood obtained his release, and met with Francis Johnson, formerly a preacher at Middleburg, who had been employed by the English bishops to destroy all copies of a tract by Greenwood and Barrow entitled 'Plain refutation of Mr. Gifford's … Short Treatise, &c.,' but had undergone a change of opinions through the perusal of a copy which he had preserved. Greenwood joined with Johnson in forming a congregation in the house of one Fox in Nicholas Lane; Johnson became minister, and Greenwood doctor or teacher; from this the beginning of Congregationalism is sometimes dated. On 5 Dec. 1592 Greenwood and Johnson were arrested shortly after midnight at the house of Edward Boys in Fleet Street, and taken to the Counter in Wood Street, Cheapside, and in the morning the archbishop recommitted Greenwood to the Fleet. On 11 and 20 March Greenwood was examined, and confessed to the authorship of his books (Egerton Papers, pp. 171, 176). On 21 March Greenwood and Barrow were indicted, and two days later Sir Thomas Egerton [q. v.], the attorney-general, writes that they had been tried for publishing and dispensing seditious books, and ordered to be executed on the morrow. According to Barrow's account, preparation was made for their execution on 24 March, but they were reprieved, and certain doctors were sent to exhort them; however, on the 31st they were taken to Tyburn, but again at the last moment reprieved (Apologie, p. 92); this seems to have been due to an appeal from Thomas Philippes to Burghley (Dexter, Congregationalism, p. 245). But shortly after they were suddenly taken from prison and hanged at Tyburn, 6 April 1593. According to a statement in the 1611 edition of Barrow's 'Platform,' Dr. Raynolds is said to have told Elizabeth that Barrow and Greenwood, 'had they lived, would have been two as worthy instruments of the church of God as have been raised up in this age.' Elizabeth is doubtfully said to have regretted their execution. Bancroft writes: 'Greenwood is but a simple fellow, Barrow is the man' (Survey of Pretended Holy Discipline, p. 249). Greenwood was married, and had a son called Abel (Examination, p. 24).

Greenwood's books were chiefly written in conjunction with Barrow, to the article on whom reference should be made. He also wrote: 1. 'M. Some laid open in his couleurs. Wherein the indifferent Header may easily see hovve vvretchedly and loosely he hath handeled the case against M. Penri,' 1589, n.p., 12mo. 2. 'An Answer to George Gifford's Pretended Defence of Read Prayers and Devised Leitourgies, vvith the ungodly cauils and wicked sclanders … in the first part of his … Short Treatise against the Donatists of England, by Iohn Greenwood, Christes poore afflicted prisoner in the Fleete at London, for the trueth of the Gospel,' Dort, 1590, 4to; a second edition appeared in the same year, and a third in 1640. The examinations of Barrow, Greenwood, and Penry were printed at London in 1593 and 1594, and are reprinted in the 'Harleian Miscellany' (iv. 340-65).

[MSS. Harley 6848, 6849 (original papers), 7041, and 7042 (Baker's collections); MS. Lansdowne 982, ff. 159-61 (notice by Bishop Kennett); Brook's Puritans, ii. 23-41 ; Hanbury's Historical Memorials of Congregationalism; Dexter's Congregationalism; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr.ii. 153 (where a number of minor references will be found); Waddington's Penry ; Stow's Annales, p. 765 (ed. 1615); Strype's Annals, ii. 534, iii. 124, App. 40, iv. 96, 136; Egerton Papers, pp. 166-79 (Camden Soc.); Ames's Typogr. Antiq. (Herbert), pp. 1262, 1678, 1711-13, 1716, 1723.]

C. L. K.