Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Heton, Martin

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HETON, MARTIN, D.D. (1552–1609), bishop of Ely, was son of George Heton of Heton Hall in the parish of Dean, Lancashire, and Joanna, the daughter of Sir Martin Bowes [q. v.], lord mayor of London in 1545. Martin, born at Heton Hall in 1552, was dedicated ‘to the service of God and of the Reformed Church’ by his mother, who died at his birth. He was educated at Westminster School, whence he proceeded to Christ Church, Oxford, in 1571 as student. He graduated B.A. 17 Dec. 1574, M.A. 2 May 1578, B.D. 6 July 1584, D.D. 6 July 1589 (Reg. Univ. Oxf. ii. iii. 44, Oxf. Hist. Soc.). He became celebrated as an able and subtle disputant, first in philosophy, and subsequently in theology (cf. ib. i. 129). In December 1582 he was appointed to a canonry at Christ Church. He was nominated vice-chancellor 16 July 1588 (ib. ii. 165), and in the following year, at the early age of thirty-six, he succeeded Dr. Humphrey as dean of Winchester. When Elizabeth visited the university of Oxford in 1592, he was one of the divines appointed to preach at Christ Church (ib. i. 229). He was present at the convocation, 16 March 1592–3, and was one of the deans of the newly erected cathedral churches (formerly monastic) who petitioned Burghley for the confirmation of their grants (Strype, Parker, iii. 264–5, Whitgift, ii. 143–5). In 1598–9 he was compelled by Elizabeth to accept the see of Ely, which had lain vacant since the death of Bishop Richard Cox [q. v.], eighteen years before. Elizabeth, shamed at last into filling up the see, found in Heton a compliant instrument for her avarice. He willingly accepted the office on condition of alienating to the queen and her heirs the richest of the few manors still left to the see. Fuller says that ‘his memory groaneth under the suspicion of sacrilegious compliances;’ but, according to Harington, ‘he was compelled in a sort to take the bishoprick on these terms’ (Harington, State of the Church, pp. 76, 81; Fuller, Worthies, i. 543; Willis, Survey of Ely, i. 340, 361). As bishop he maintained the dignity of the office, being esteemed ‘inferior to few of his rank for learning and other good parts belonging to a prelate’ (Harington). His hospitality obtained for him the reputation in Ely of being ‘the best housekeeper within man's remembrance.’ He was considered a learned and able preacher, winning the encomium of James I that while ‘fat men were wont to make lean sermons, his were not lean, but larded with much good learning.’ He died at Mildenhall in Suffolk, where he had gone for the benefit of his health, 14 July 1609. He was buried in the south aisle of the presbytery of his cathedral, where there is a monument to him, with a life-size alabaster effigy, vested in a rich cope embroidered with figures of the Apostles, and two long eulogistic epitaphs in Latin verse, one written by Dr. William Gager [q. v.], his chancellor, and the other by his nephew, George Heton, B.D., of Cambridge. He was married, and left two daughters, one married to Sir Robert Filmer of Kent, the other to Sir Edward Fish of Bedfordshire. In his lifetime he contributed 40l. to purchase books for the newly established Bodleian Library. There is a portrait of him in the palace at Ely, which has been engraved by Harding, 8vo and 4to. Another portrait is in the hall of Christ Church, Oxford. He was succeeded in his see by Lancelot Andrewes [q. v.]

A near relative, Thomas Heton, who was a London cloth merchant in close business relations with Flanders, was an enthusiastic protestant, and on Mary's accession received into his house in Flanders Pilkington, Sampson, and other protestant refugees from England. In 1573 he negotiated for the settlement of English cloth merchants at Emden, so that they might avoid Spanish exactions. He seems to have died in want (cf. Strype, Whitgift, ii. 424, Memorials, p. 225, and Annals, ii. i. 397).

[Bentham's Ely, pp. 195–7; Godwin, De Præsul. i. 274; Browne Willis, i. 340, 361; Harington's Brief View, pp. 76–81; Fuller's Worthies, i. 543; Wood's Athenæ, ii. 847; Strype's Annals, iv. 490, Parker, iii. 264–5, Whitgift, ii. 143–5. For his alienations see Cole MSS. xix. 107–9, xlvi. 186–90.]

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