Howson, John (1557?-1632) (DNB00)

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HOWSON, JOHN (1557?–1632), bishop of Durham, born in the parish of St. Bride, London, about 1557, was educated at St. Paul's School, whence he proceeded to Christ Church, Oxford, and was elected a student in 1577. He was admitted B.A. on 12 Nov. 1578, and M.A. on 3 March 1581-2, accumulating his degrees in divinity on 17 Dec. 1601 (Reg. of Univ. of Oxf. Oxf. Hist. Soc., vol. ii. pt. iii. p. 76). On 15 July 1587 he was installed prebendary of Hereford Cathedral, a preferment which he ceded in 1603 (Le Neve, Fasti, ed. Hardy, i. 534); became prebendary of Exeter on 29 May 1592 (ib. i. 421); was instituted one of the vicars of Bampton, Oxfordshire, on 7 July 1598; and was made chaplain to the queen. On 1 April 1601 he obtained the vicarage of Great Milton, Oxfordshire, was admitted on the following 15 May to the second prebendal stall at Christ Church (ib. ii. 520), and received during the same year the rectory of Britwell Salome, Oxfordshire. In 1602 he was elected vice-chancellor of the university (ib. iii. 476). During his term of office he strove to put down puritanism with a high hand (Wood, Antiquities of Oxford, ed. Gutch, vol. ii. pt. i. pp. 271-5). On Accession day, 17 Nov. 1602, he preached a sermon at St. Mary's, Oxford, in defence of the festivities of the church of England, which he printed at the end of the month (reprinted in 1603, and imperfectly in vol. i. of both editions of Lord Somers's 'Tracts'). From the dedication to Thomas, lord Buckhurst, it appears that the sermon gave dire offence to the puritans, who accused Howson of preaching false doctrine (cf. also Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1601-3, p. 290). Howson was nominated an original fellow of Chelsea College on 8 May 1610. In 1612 he was again censured for having expressed disapproval of the Genevan annotations in another university sermon (Wood, Antiquities of Oxford, vol. ii. pt. i. p. 312). The king, whose chaplain he was, sympathised with him, and marked him out for high preferment. He was especially pleased by the robust way in which Howson attacked popery, and by his declaration that he would loosen the pope from his chair 'though he were fastened thereto with a ten-penny nail.' On 9 May 1619 Howson was consecrated bishop of Oxford (Le Neve, ii. 505), from which see he was translated to that of Durham in September 1628 (ib. iii. 295-6). His attempts to enforce Laud's decrees involved him in much unseemly wrangling with his clergy. He died on 6 Feb. 1631-2, aged 75, and was buried in St. Paul's Cathedral. On 10 Aug. 1601 he married, at Blackbourton, Oxfordshire, Elizabeth Floyd of Bampton (Giles, Bampton, 2nd ed., p. 36); his daughter Anne was married to Thomas Farnaby [q. v.], by whom she had several children, and afterwards to a Mr. Cole of Suffolk. His portrait is at Christ Church; it was engraved by Droeshout.

Howson was also author of: 1. 'A Sermon [on Matth. xxi. 12, 13] preached at Paules Crosse the 4 of December 1597. Wherein is discoursed that all buying and selling of spirituall promotion is unlawfull,' 4to, London, 1597; another edition the same year. 2. 'A Second Sermon preached at Paules Crosse the 21 of May 1598, upon the 21 of Math, the 12 and 13 verses: concluding a former sermon,' 4to, London, 1598. 3.'Uxore dimissa propter fornicationem aliam non licet superinducere, Tertia Thesis J. Howsoni,' 8vo, Oxford, 1602; another edition, 'accessit ejusdem theseos defensio contra reprehensiones T. Pyi,' 2 pts., 4to, Oxford, 1606, with a letter in English on the subject of the controversy by J. Rainolds, and another in Latin by A. Gentilis. 4. 'Articles to be enquired of within the dioces of Oxford in the first visitation of … John, Bishop of Oxford,' 4to, Oxford, 1619. 5. 'A Circular' to the clergy of his diocese appended to Archbishop Abbot's 'Coppie of a letter shewing the … reasons which induced the King's Majestie to prescribe those former directions for preachers,' 4to, Oxford, 1622. 6. 'Certaine Sermons [on Luke xii. 41, 42, &c.] made in Oxford A.D. 1616, wherein is proved that St. Peter had no Monarchicall Power over the rest of the Apostles, against Bellarmine, Sanders, Stapleton, and the rest of that companie,' 4to, London, 1622, published by command of James I. The sermon on Luke xii. 41,42, was reprinted in 1661, 4to.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 517-19; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1598-1632; Fuller's Worthies, i. 270.]

G. G.