Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 01.djvu/33

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Abbot
Abbot
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the humiliation. The act injured Abbot’s influence at Oxford, and he was unable to restrain disorders at All Souls, which caused him increasing anxiety. In 1623 he severely reprimanded the officers for allowing the students to ‘spend their time in taverns and alehouses, to the defamation of scholars and scandal of your house.’ In 1626 he suspended a fellow for irregular conduct, and in 1633 he wrote two letters (2 Jan. and 25 May) expressing his disapproval of the extravagant expenditure of the authorities. Nearly fifty years later, Archbishop Sancroft attempted to re-enforce Abbot’s rules (Burrows, Worthies of All Souls, pp. 126 et seq.; Martin, Archives of All Souls College, pp. 310–77).

During the last few months of 1632, Abbot’s health, which had been for a long time apparently breaking, seemed to revive; and a friend wrote (30 Sept. 1632) that ‘if any other prelate gape after his benefice, his grace perhaps . . . [may] eat the goose which shall graze upon his grave’ (Harl. MS. 7000, f. 181; Fuller, Church History, ed. Brewer, vi. 44, note). But Abbot’s death followed within the year. A well-known story recorded of his last years shows the bitter trials that beset him to the end. On his return to Croydon shortly before his death he was incommoded by a crowd of women who surrounded his coach, and on his complaining of their presence, the shout was raised: ‘Ye had best shoot an arrow at us.’ The archbishop died at Croydon, 4 Aug. 1633, aged seventy-one. He was buried, as he desired, in Trinity Church, Guildford, and his brother, Sir Maurice Abbot, erected in 1635 an elaborate monument to his memory, which is still standing. By his will he left legacies to the poor of Lambeth and Croydon and to his servants. Besides arranging for the endowment of his hospital, he provided 100l. to be lent to poor tradesmen of Guildford, and urged the mayor to set up some manufacture in the town ‘to find work for the younger sort of people:’ a room in the hospital he assigned as a ‘workhouse’ for the purpose. His friend, Sir Dudley Digges, was not forgotten, and to the Princess Elizabeth, whose marriage he had brought about, and whose husband he had befriended in vain, he bequeathed 200l. The residue of his property he left to his nephews and surviving brothers, Maurice and John. The greater part of his library he gave to his successor at Lambeth, and it practically formed the nucleus of that great collection; some portion was at the same time reserved for the chapterhouses of Winchester and Canterbury. Among his books were found a large number of popish tracts that he had sequestrated, and the Spanish ambassador demanded their surrender to their owners at the close of 1633 (Cal. Clarendon Papers, i. 40). But it was not only at his death that Abbot gave proof of his generosity. He had been throughout his life a benefactor of Oxford, London, and Canterbury, as well as of Guildford. In 1619 he subscribed 100l. to the library of Balliol and to the repair of the college buildings. He contributed largely to the new foundation of Pembroke, which was established finally in 1624, and the first master wrote to the archbishop to express the society’s appreciation of his benevolence. He also sent 100l. to assist in the rebuilding of the Oxford schools, and another 100l. somewhat later (1632) to aid the library of University College. At Canterbury he built a ‘fair conduit,’ which he had determined to give to the town, but a quarrel as to his jurisdiction in the city changed his purpose. To London he gave 200l., in 1622, towards the repair of St. Paul’s and the removal of beggars, and he was always ready to assist private persons in distress.

It was inevitable that very various estimates should be held of Abbot’s character in the seventeenth century. Whitelocke wrote that he left behind him ‘the memory of a pious, learned, and moderate prelate’ (Memorials, 18, ed. 1732; cf. May, Long Parliament, p. 23, ed. 1854). Clarendon attributes to him the downfall of the church in the civil wars, and charges him with fostering religious factions and indifference to ecclesiastical discipline (History, i. 134, ed. 1849). Fuller describes him as a grave man in his conversation and as unblamable in his life, but unduly severe to the clergy in the high commission court (Church History, ed. Brewer, vi. 46). Other writers of the time attribute to him ‘remissness in visitation,’ a charge depending mainly on Laud’s account of the carelessness of his last report of the condition of his diocese. He proved himself, however, conscientious enough at other times in the discharge of the duties of his office, to show that the accusation can only apply to his last days, when he was broken in health and spirit. Of his narrowness of view and unconciliatory tone of mind we have already spoken. His occasional connivance at cruelties that in our eyes admit of no defence put these characteristics in a very repulsive light; but his resistance of unjust authority, his consistency of purpose, and his charitable instincts must be set in the opposite balance.

Besides the works already enumerated, Abbot is credited with having written the account of the persecution of the protestants

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