Grindal, Edmund (DNB00)

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GRINDAL, EDMUND (1519?–1583), archbishop of Canterbury, was the son of William Grindal, a well-to-do farmer who lived at Hensingham, in the parish of St. Bees, Cumberland, a district which Grindal himself described as 'the ignorantest part in religion, and most oppressed of covetous landlords of anyone part of this realm' (Remains, p. 257). He went at an early age to Cambridge, where he entered first at Magdalene College, and then removed to Christ's College where he was scholar in 1536-7, and afterwards to Pembroke Hall, where he took his B.A. degree in 1538, and in the same year was elected fellow. He took the degree of M.A. in 1541, was ordained deacon in 1544, and was proctor of the university for 1548-1549, in which year he was appointed Lady Margaret's preacher. In the year of his proctorship commissioners were appointed by Edward VI to hold a visitation at Cambridge. At the head of the commission was Nicholas Ridley, bishop of Rochester, who had formerly been master of Pembroke Hall, and probably it was owing to his influence that Grindal was selected on 24 June 1549 to argue on the protestant side in one of a series of disputations in which the commissioners used the old scholastic system as a means to advance the cause of the reformed theology (Foxe, Acts and Monuments, ed. 1846, vi. 322-7). After this Ridley frequently employed him in similar disputations elsewhere, and especially in some which were held at the houses of Sir William Cecil and Sir Richard Morysin (Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, MSS. cii. 12). When Ridley became bishop of London he chose Grindal as one of his chaplains, and in August 1551 collated him to the precentorship of St. Paul's. In the following December he was made one of the royal chaplains, in June 1552 received license to preach within the province of Canterbury, and in July was installed as a prebendary of Westminster. In the following October the articles of religion were submitted to him as one of the royal chaplains before they were introduced into convocation. It was rumoured that he was to be made a bishop, but Edward VI's death prevented his appointment, and on Mary's accession Grindal found it wise to leave England, abandoning all his preferments. He settled at Strasburg, where he attended the lectures of Peter Martyr. Thence he passed on to Wasselheim, Speier, and Frankfort, where he strove to allay the disputes which had arisen among the English exiles about the use of the English liturgy. On the death of Queen Mary, Grindal returned to England in January 1559.

He was at once recognised as a man of rank among the protestant divines, and was appointed one of the commissioners for the revision of the liturgy, and was also one of the disputants in the conference held at Westminster for the purpose of silencing the Roman divines. When the revised prayer-book was brought into use in May, Grindal was the preacher selected to explain what had been done. On 19 July he was appointed one of the royal commissioners for the visitation of the clergy. Honours and emoluments were now showered upon him. On 20 July Dr. Young, master of Pembroke Hall, was ejected from his office because he refused the oath of supremacy. Grindal was elected master in his stead. The refusal of the Marian bishops to submit to the new state of things in the church was all but universal. They were ejected, and their places were difficult to fill. On 26 July Grindal was elected to take the place of Bonner as bishop of London.

Grindal did not accept this office without some scruples of conscience, and he consulted Peter Martyr on the lawfulness of wearing vestments and receiving impropriations of tithes. Martyr advised him not to decline a bishopric on such slender grounds, and Grindal had himself come to the same conclusion, for he accepted his office before Martyr's answer reached him. However, he eased his conscience by joining Parker and other bishops elect in protesting against Elizabeth's measure for exchanging impropriate tithes for lands belonging to their sees. The protest was unavailing, and Grindal felt justified in joining in the prevailing scramble for good things by retaining his mastership of Pembroke Hall for three years, without ever setting foot inside its walls. On 21 Dec. he was consecrated at Lambeth, and on 23 Dec. was enthroned in St. Paul's.

As bishop of London Grindal did not fulfil the expectations of Archbishop Parker, who had selected him for the post. He was too infirm of purpose and not sufficiently sure of his own position to hold any clear principles for building up the shattered fabric of the English church. The question was, How could a religious system be best maintained which, without any formal breach with the past, should be able to contain and direct the national life, which had been profoundly affected by new ideas alike in theology and politics? Grindal's sympathies were with the ideas of Calvin, and he did not cordially approve of the retention of so much of the forms of the ancient liturgy. He did not help much in establishing the Anglican system in his diocese. Like all weak men he was subject to panics, in which he acted with a harshness contrary to his real gentleness of nature. Sometimes it was the Romanists, sometimes the puritans, who were exposed to his sudden severity. As an instance of this may be mentioned the search for popish papers made among the books of Stow the antiquary, whom Grindal denounced to the council as a fautor of papistry (Strype, Grindal, p. 124). Grindal was kept busy by many formal duties. He was the superintendent of the foreign congregations in London, and a member of the court of high commission; he was one of the commissioners who in 1561 revised the lectionary, and in 1562 was a commissioner to examine into the alleged marriage between the Earl of Hertford and Lady Catharine Grey. On 4 June 1561 St. Paul's Cathedral was burnt, and Grindal had to devise means for its restoration. The laity were not open-handed, and the money for the rebuilding was mostly raised by a tax upon the benefices of the diocese. Grindal wished to take the lead from the decaying parish church of St. Bartholomew, but was prevented by the opposition of Sir Walter Mildmay. It is said that he himself contributed 1,200l.

In 1562 Grindal took a prominent part in the proceedings of convocation, which revised the articles of religion and framed rules for discipline. On 15 April 1564 he was admitted to the degree of D.D. at Cambridge, and on 3 Oct. preached a funeral sermon at St. Paul's in honour of the Emperor Ferdinand, which was published, and was translated by Foxe into Latin. He found, however, his position increasingly difficult, as he sympathised with the puritan clergy, whom the queen and Archbishop Parker wished to bring into obedience to the Act of Uniformity. The diocese of London was the chief centre of puritanism, and Grindal was not the man to cope with it. Perhaps he felt happier in dealing with Romanists who were committed to his custody and lived at Fulham, among them Feckenham, abbot of Westminster, Watson, the deprived bishop of Lincoln, and Marshall, formerly dean of Christchurch. He found it hard to justify his position to his friends abroad, and in 1566-7 was engaged in a correspondence with Bullinger on the subject (Zurich Letters, i. 68, 175, 182, 357). It was extremely distasteful to Grindal to order his clergy to wear the surplice, but Elizabeth commanded him to do so, and he obeyed half-heartedly. In 1567 a separatist meeting was discovered at Plummer's Hall, and fifteen were brought before Grindal, who weakly endeavoured to win them to obedience by admitting his sympathy with their scruples and urging them to follow his example of conformity. He interfered to save them from legal penalties.

It would seem that Archbishop Parker was annoyed at the inefficient support which he received from Grindal, who himself was weary of his position. Parker therefore recommended him for the vacant see of York, saying that he 'was not resolute and severe enough for the government of London.' Grindal, as a north-countryman, was likely to be acceptable at York, and he was elected to that see on 11 April 1570. He went thither to undertake the more congenial task of rooting out Romish superstitions, as he wrote to Cecil in August (Remains, p. 325). He carefully visited his new diocese, issued a commission for pulling down rood-lofts, and in May 1571 began a metropolitan visitation of his province, for which he issued injunctions of his own, refusing to follow the articles which had been drawn up for the southern province (ib. pp. 123-55). They mostly aim at reducing the standard of ritual already existing, and at abolishing old customs. In fact, his work at York was to enforce uniformity against the Romish party, and this Grindal did with goodwill and considerable tact.

It would have been well for Grindal if he had remained at York; but after Parker's death in August 1575 Cecil urged upon the queen the choice of Grindal as his successor at Canterbury. It was a time when Elizabeth's policy required a leaning towards puritanism, a leaning which Cecil himself genuinely possessed. So Grindal was elected archbishop of Canterbury on 10 Jan. 1575, and presided over convocation in the following March. Doubtless Cecil hoped that a more conciliatory attitude towards the puritans than that of Parker might lead to a religious settlement, and he urged Grindal to make the exercise of the metropolitical power more popular than it had been under his predecessor. The archbishop's courts had been left unreformed, and after the abolition of the papal jurisdiction very imperfect arrangements had been made for the discharge of many duties which had hitherto been undertaken by the Roman court. The court of faculties for the issue of dispensations was especially grievous, and Grindal undertook its reform. He began a visitation of his province and issued articles and injunctions accordingly (ib. pp. 157-89). He was not, however, permitted to achieve much as archbishop. Scarcely had he been appointed before Elizabeth's foreign relations changed and she began to draw nearer to the catholic powers on the continent. Grindal was too sincere a man to change with her, and she found that in choosing a weak man she had not secured a yielding one. The courtiers were similarly disappointed when they found that Grindal's conscience prevented him from granting all their petitions. The current rumour that Leicester set Elizabeth against Grindal because he would not grant a dispensation for bigamy to Leicester's Italian physician, Julio, was an exaggerated way of expressing what was doubtless true in the main (Strype, Grindal, pp. 225-6). From a number of causes it happened that no sooner was Grindal in his place than the queen and her favourite wished to get rid of him. The subject that provoked the rupture was the continuance of 'prophesyings,' or clerical meetings for the exposition and discussion of scripture. These meetings were chiefly attended by the puritan party among the clergy, who were the more zealous. For this reason Parker had looked upon them with some suspicion, and Elizabeth, who disliked all zeal, objected to them on political grounds. To Grindal it seemed natural that the clergy should meet to discuss the scriptures; but with a view of appeasing objections he issued orders that such meetings should be licensed by the bishop and presided over by the archdeacon or his deputy; that only approved persons be permitted to speak, and that all political or personal references be rigidly excluded. This did not satisfy Elizabeth, who thought that all speech was dangerous, and that these 'prophesyings' would train up a body of preachers who might utter dubious sermons instead of steadily reading a homily. She ordered Grindal not only to suppress 'prophesyings,' but to discourage preaching. This was more than Grindal could endure, and in a dignified letter to the queen, dated 20 Dec. 1576, he reminded her of the relations between the spiritual and temporal power, asserted in moderate terms the rights of bishops, and deprecated the queen's intervention (Remains, p. 376). Elizabeth answered on 7 May 1577 by issuing letters to all the bishops ordering them to put down 'prophesyings' within their dioceses (Strype, Grindal, Appendix, No. x.) In June Grindal was suspended from his functions for six months, for non-compliance with the queen's orders, an unheard-of interference with an archbishop. But though there was much personal sympathy for Grindal, neither he nor any of his friends were likely to disturb the peace of England. His vicar-general discharged his judicial duties for him, and he bowed before the storm. In November Cecil sent him a kindly message advising him to make his peace with the queen ; but though Grindal returned a submissive answer, he remained firm on the point at issue. His sequestration was therefore continued, and there was talk of his deprivation. But it was seen that this would be an unwise step for the queen to take, and Grindal was allowed to keep the title of archbishop and to discharge his spiritual functions. In 1580 he consecrated the bishops of Winchester and Coventry and pursued the visitation of his diocese. When convocation met in 1581 it presented a petition for Grindal's reinstatement, and there were even some who proposed that no business should be undertaken till the sequestration was removed. The queen was obdurate, nor did convocation show much zeal in dealing with a matter which Grindal submitted to them, the reformation of church discipline (Remains, pp. 451-7).

Grindal was afflicted by the advance of a cataract on his eyes, which rendered him almost blind, and Elizabeth suggested to him that he should resign. Grindal did not think his case bad enough for resignation ; he was prevailed upon by his friends to make a sort of submission, in which he said that he acted 'by reason of scruple of conscience,' but was persuaded that the queen had only sought the quietness of her people: he was therefore sorry that he had offended her, and had no intention of being disobedient (ib. pp. 400-1). After this he seems to have been fully restored in his office at the end of 1582; but his blindness increased and his general health failed. It was obvious that he must resign, and arrangements were made for this purpose; but before they were finished the archbishop died in his house at Croydon on 6 July 1583. He was buried, according to his own request, in the parish church of Croydon, where a tomb was erected to him on the south side of the altar. His effigy is laid on a sarcophagus within an arched recess adorned with Corinthian columns and the arms of the various sees over which he presided. There is a long historical epitaph, which Strype prints with his will (Appendix xx.), dated 8 May 1583. He left gifts to the queen, Lord Burghley, Walsingham, Whitgift, and others, plate to Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, and Queen's College, Oxford, and the parish church of St. Bees, and bequests to the poor of Canterbury, Lambeth, Croydon, and St. Bees. Previously, in April 1583, he endowed a free grammar school at St. Bees, and was a benefactor of Pembroke Hall and Christ's College, Cambridge, and Queen's College, Oxford.

Grindal disappointed the expectations formed of him. Sensible, judicious, learned, with much personal charm, he seemed likely to take a prominent part in shaping the future of the church under Elizabeth; but though he was put in positions of importance he made little mark, and his tenure was disastrous to the dignity of the archi-episcopal office. He was admired by those who knew him for his private virtues, and Spenser in the 'Shepherd's Calendar' for May and July speaks warmly of his wisdom and goodness under the transparent disguise of 'the shepherd Algrind.' He was a friend of Whitgift and Nowell, whose book in answer to Dolman he revised before its publication. He was fond of music and was a patron of the chief musicians of his time. He was also fond of gardening, and sent grapes from Fulham as a present to the queen.

His writings consist entirely of occasional pieces, special services, episcopal injunctions and examinations of accused persons, and letters. He published in his lifetime 'A Profitable and Necessarye Doctrine with Certayne Homelyes adjoyned therunto,' London (by Jhon Cawoode), 1555, 4to, and the sermon on the Emperor Ferdinand (1564). His only treatise of importance is 'A Fruitful Dialogue betwen Custom and Verity declaring these words of Christ, This is my body; 'this was given by Grindal to Foxe, and appeared first anonymously in the 'Acts and Monuments,' Most of his writings are collected in 'The Remains of Archbishop Grindal,' ed. W. Nicholson (Parker Society) ; Cooper, 'Athenæ Cantabrigienses,' i. 478-80, has added a few more from the Petyt MSS. and the Record Office.

[Strype's Lives of Grindal and Parker and Annals of the Reformation under Elizabeth; Nicholson's Preface to Grindal's Remains; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabrigienses, i. 470-80; Hook's Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury, new ser. vol. v.; Zurich Letters (Parker Society); Heylyn's Hist. of the Reformation; Lemon's Cal. of State Papers, Dom. 1547-80.]

M. C.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.143
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
261 ii 16 Grindal, Edmund: after Christ's College, insert where he was scholar in 1536-7,
19f.e. for 1541 read 1551