Ironside, Gilbert (1588-1671) (DNB00)

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IRONSIDE, GILBERT, the elder (1588–1671), bishop of Bristol, elder son of Ralph Ironside, by Jane, daughter of William Gilbert, M.A., of Magdalen College, Oxford, superior beadle of arts, was born at Hawkesbury, near Sodbury, Gloucestershire, on 25 Nov. 1588. His father, Ralph Ironside (1550?–1609), born at Houghton-le-Spring, Durham, about 1550, was third son of John Ironside of Houghton-le-Spring (d. 1581); matriculated from St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, 20 Dec. 1577, and graduated B.A. in 1580–1. Elected a fellow of University College, he graduated M.A. in 1585, and B.D. in 1601. He was rector of Long Bredy and of Winterbourne Abbas, both in Dorset, and died 25 May 1629. He is often confused with his second son, Ralph (1590–1683), who took holy orders, became rector of Long Bredy in succession to his father, and is said to have been ejected from his benefice by the Long parliament, and to have been reduced to the utmost poverty (Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii. 194). On the Restoration the younger Ralph was reinstated in his living; was chosen proctor of the clergy in convocation, and became archdeacon of Dorset in 1661. He died 5 March 1683, and was buried in Long Bredy church, where there is a monument to him.

Gilbert Ironside matriculated at Trinity College, Oxford, 22 June 1604, and became scholar of his college 28 May 1605, B.A. 1608, M.A. 1612, B.D. 1619, and D.D. 1620, and fellow of Trinity 1613. In 1618 he was presented to the rectory of Winterbourne Steepleton, Dorsetshire, by Sir Robert Miller. In 1629 he succeeded his father in the benefice of Winterbourne Abbas. He was also rector of Yeovilton in Somerset. Wood says that he kept his preferments during the protectorate, but this statement seems doubtful (ib. ii. 198). Either by marriage or other means he amassed a large fortune before the Restoration. On 13 Oct. 1660 he was appointed to a prebendal stall in York Minster, but resigned the post next year, when on 13 Jan. 1661 he was consecrated bishop of Bristol. As a man of wealth he was considered fitted to maintain the dignity of the episcopate with the reduced revenues of the see (Wood, Athenæ Oxon. iii. 940, iv. 849). At Bristol Ironside showed much forbearance to nonconforming ministers. Calamy gives the particulars of a long conference between him and John Wesley [q. v.] of Whitchurch (father of Samuel Wesley [q. v.] of Epworth and grandfather of the famous John Wesley [q. v.]). Wesley refused to use the Book of Common Prayer, and, according to Kennett, 'the bishop was more civil to him than he to the bishop.' Finding him impracticable, Ironside is said to have closed the interview with the words, 'I will not meddle with you, and will do you all the good I can' (Kennett, Register, p. 919; Calamy, Memorial, pp. 438–47). Ironside died on 19 Sept. 1671, and was buried in his cathedral without any memorial, near the steps of the bishop's throne. He married (1) Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Frenchman of East Compton, Dorsetshire, and (2) Alice, daughter of William Glisson of Marnhull, Dorsetshire. By his first wife he was father of four sons, of whom Gilbert, the third son, is separately noticed.

He was the author of 'Ten Questions of the Sabbath freely described,' Oxford, 1637; and two separately published sermons, 1660 and 1684.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon, iii. 945, iv. 895–7; Kennett's Register, pp. 295, 328, 351, 354, 373; Hutchins's Hist. of Dorset, Introd. vol. xxv. pt. ii. pp. 198, 280: Calamy's Memorial, pp.438–47; Lansdowne MSS. 987, 102. No. 2; Burke's Landed Gentry.]

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