Milverton, John (DNB00)

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MILVERTON, JOHN (d. 1487), Carmelite, was a native of Milverton, Somerset, and became a Carmelite friar at Bristol. Afterwards he studied at Oxford, where he became prior of the house of his order (Wood, City of Oxford, ii. 440, Oxf. Hist. Soc.), and disputed as doctor of divinity in January or February 1451-2 (Boase, Reg. Univ. Oxon. i. 16, Oxf. Hist. Soc.) He was chosen English provincial of the order in a general chapter at Paris in 1456, and held the office until 1465, but was restored in 1469, and retained the post till 1482 (Harley MS. 3838, f. 39). Milverton wrote against the doctrines of Reginald Pecock [q. v.] When the Carmelites Henry Parker and Thomas Holden were censured by the Bishop of London for preaching the doctrine of evangelical poverty Milverton took up their defence. He was opposed by William Ive or Ivy [q. v.], and in October 1464 was excommunicated and imprisoned by his bishop. Afterwards he was summoned, or went, to Rome, where, his explanations not being satisfactory, he was for three years imprisoned by Paul II in the castle of St. Angelo. Eventually his case was remitted to the consideration of seven cardinals, who acquitted him of heresy. The pope is stated to have then offered to make him a cardinal, an honour which Milverton declined. Previously to his imprisonment Milverton is alleged to have been chosen bishop of St. Davids, but owing to the accusations against him never consecrated; it is, however, to be noticed that the last vacancy was in 1460. In Lambeth MS. 580 ff. 213-7 there is a bull of Paul II as to Milverton's controversy, and a letter from some English theologians on the matter, both dated 1464, and a later bull dated 1468, as to the recantation and restitution of John Milverton, who is styled provincial. Milverton died in London 30 Jan. 1486-7, and was buried in Whitefriars; Weever quotes his epitaph (Funerall Monuments, p. 439). Bale (Harley MS. 3838, f. 105) gives another epitaph beginning:

Mylvertonus erat doctrine firmus amator.

Elsewhere (Harley 1819, f. 67b) he quotes some other lines, of which the first two are:

Deditus hic studio totus miranda reliquit
Scripta, nec insignior ipse loquendo fuit,

and states that he was called ‘doctor probatus.’

Milverton wrote: 1. ‘Ad papam Pium II super articulis, examinatione, disputatione, ac tandem revocatione R. Pecock.’ 2. ‘De paupertate Christi.’ 3. ‘Symbolum sue fidei.’ 4. ‘Epistolæ lxiv ad amicos.’ He is also credited with lectures, determinations, sermons, and commentaries on scripture, together with various letters to the cardinals, to whom his case was referred, and to others, besides some other works, the distinct identity of which seems doubtful. None of Milverton's writings appear to have survived. His controversies are alleged to have damaged the position of his order in England, a statement which De Villiers repudiates.

[Bale's Heliades in Harley MSS. 1819 ff. 38-9, 67b, 107, 216, and 3838 f. 105; Tanner's Bibl. Brit.-Hib. pp. 528-9; C. De Villiers's Bibl. Carmel. ii. 56-9; Todd's Catalogue of Lambeth MSS.; Wood's Hist. and Antiq. Univ. Oxford, i. 605, 626.]

C. L. K.