Prideaux, John (1578-1650) (DNB00)

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PRIDEAUX, JOHN (1578–1650), bishop of Worcester, fourth son of John and Agnes Prideaux, was born at Stowford in the parish of Harford or Hartford, near Ivybridge, Devonshire, 17 Sept. 1578. His parents were poor, and had to provide for a family of twelve; John, however, attracted the attention of a wealthy friend, Lady Fowel, of the same parish, and was sent to Oxford at eighteen. He matriculated from Exeter College 14 Oct. 1596 (Clark, Reg. Univ. Oxf. vol. ii. pt. ii. p. 216), was admitted B.A. 31 Jan. 1599-1600, was elected fellow of Exeter 30 June 1601, and proceeded M.A. 30 June 1603 (Boase, Exeter Coll. Reg. p. 55). He henceforth took a prominent part in the affairs of his college, which was flourishing under Thomas Holland (d. 1612) [q. v.] as rector and William Helme as tutor. Prideaux took holy orders soon after 1603, and was appointed chaplain to Prince Henry. Matthew Sutcliffe, dean of Exeter, named him in 1609 one of the fellows of his new college at Chelsea who were to combat Roman catholics and Pelagians; but the enterprise failed (Boase, ib. p. xxvi). Prideaux was admitted B.D. 6 May 1611 (Clark, Reg. Univ. Oxf. vol. ii. pt. i. p. 138), and on 4 April 1612 he was elected rector of Exeter College, and was permitted to take the degree of D.D. 30 May 1612, before the statutable period (ib. p. 139). After the death of Prince Henry he was appointed chaplain to the king, and preferment was not slow in coming. On 17 July 1614 he was collated to the vicarage of Bampton, Oxfordshire (Boase, p. 58), and 8 Dec. 1615 was appointed regius professor of divinity in succession to Abbot (Le Neve, iii. 509). To this office a canonry of Christ Church was annexed 16 March 1616 (ib. ii. 525). He received subsequently the vicarage of Chalgrove, Oxfordshire, in 1620, a canonry in Salisbury Cathedral 17 June 1620 (Lansd. MS. 985, f. 168), the rectory of Bladon in 1625, and the rectory of Ewelme, Oxfordshire, in 1629 (Foster, Alumni Oxon.; Wood, Athenae).

When he became rector of his college, Exeter was fifth in point of numbers in the university, and attracted not only west-countrymen, but also many foreign students. Prideaux maintained and increased its reputation for scholarship. Philip Cluverius and D. Orville the geographers, James Casaubon and Sixtinus Amama were among the many Germans, Dutch, Swedes, and others who studied under him. Secretary Spottiswood and James, duke of Hamilton, were among his Scottish pupils. Many distinguished Englishmen were trained under his care (Wood, Athenae, passim). Prideaux was instrumental in adding to the buildings of the college : a new chapel was built in 1624, and consecrated (5 Oct.) with a sermon by him. He enforced discipline with a firm hand (cf. Boase, pp. xxvii, 64, 212). Anthony Ashley Cooper, afterwards first earl of Shaftesbury [q. v.], his pupil from 1636 to 1638, records that he could be just and kindly to excitable undergraduates.

He was vice-chancellor for five years in all from July 1619 to July 1621. July 1624 to 1626, and from 7 Oct. 1641 to 7 Feb. 1642-3 (Clark; Le Neve). In his first year of office he had to intervene in the dispute raging in Jesus College as to the eleption of a principal. In defiance of the fellows, he installed Francis Mansell [q. v.], the nominee of Lord Pembroke, then chancellor, and expelled most of the dissentients. Through these difficult years, when the university was breaking up into hostile parties, his firmness was not unappreciated.

It was as regius professor of divinity that Prideaux came most into contact with actual politics. For twenty-six years he had to preside at theological disputations, in which all that was unorthodox, whether puritan or Armiuian, was certain to find supporters. He maintained throughout the conservative position, without altogether alienating extremists on either side. To young Gilbert Sheldon, who first at Oxford denied that the pope was antichrist, he replied with a jest (Wood, Athenae, iv. 858); and even his quarrel with Peter Heylyn [q. v.], whom in 1627 he denounced as a 'Bellarminian,' for maintaining the supremacy of the church in matters of faith, was amicably settled in 1633 by the mediation of Laud (ib. iii. 553-5). In 1617 a similar difficulty with Daniel Fairclough, alias Featley [q. v.], had been composed by the help of Abbot. His attitude towards Arminian views was unfriendly, and Charles himself is said to have rebuked him on this account (Boase, p. xxvi, quoting Laud). On the other hand, Laud respected him, and asked him in 1636 to revise Chillingworth's well-known 'Religion of Protestants' (Wood, iii. 91), and he always remained one of the royal chaplains.

Prideaux, as a moderate and impartial divine, was one of the miscellaneous theologians summoned by the lords' committee 1 March 1640-1, to meet in the Jerusalem chamber and discuss plans of church reform under the lead of Williams (Masson, Life of Milton, ii. 225). In the autumn Charles, resolving to fill the five vacant sees, promoted four bishops and appointed Prideaux to the fifth, that of Worcester. Prideaux was consecrated on 19 Dec. 1641, and installed a few weeks later; he was thus engaged at Worcester when Williams and his eleven colleagues assembled to make their protest, 29 Dec., and so escaped impeachment. He was one of the three peers, all bishops, who alone dissented when the bill for excluding the spiritual peers from parliament was read a third time, 5 Feb. 1641-2, and thus ended his brief parliamentary career. That the commons were not hostile to Prideaux was shown by his nomination as one of the assembly of 102 divines, April 1642 (Masson, ii. 573). He never attended any of its meetings (Wood, iv. 150), and, returning to Worcester, gradually identified himself with the royalists; so that in the list of 119 divines nominated in the ordinance of June 1643 his name no longer appears (Wood, ib.) He maintained himself in his diocese until the end of the war, and was in Worcester when the city capitulated to Rainsborough, 23 July 1646 (Nash, Worcestershire, ii. App. p. cv). Deprived of what remained to him of the episcopal estates, he sought a refuge with his son-in-law, Dr. Henry Sutton, rector of Bredon, Worcestershire. His last years were spent in comparative poverty, and Wood, quoting Gauden (Pillar of Gratitude, p. 13), calls him a 'verus librorum helluo,' because he had to sell his library to provide for his family. He died of fever at Bredon 29 July 1650 (epitaph in Abingdon's Antiquities of Worcestershire, 1717, 8vo, pp. 110-11), and was buried in the chancel of the church there 15 Aug. (Lansd. MS. 985, f. 168), a great concourse attending his funeral (Fuller, Worthies, ed. 1662, p. 254).

Wood writes of him as 'an humble man, of plain and downright behaviour, careless of money and imprudent in worldly matters' (Athenæ, iii. 266-7). He maintained his independence of mind amid the storm of controversy. His piety was sincere, and he possessed a strong sense of humour. His friendship with Casaubon and many of the foremost continental scholars attests his learning.

He married twice. By his first wife, Mary, granddaughter of Dr. Taylor, the Marian martyr, he had a son William, who contributed verses to the Oxford 'Epithalamia' of 1625, and, becoming a colonel in the king's service, was killed at Marston Moor (Boase, pp. 55, 210, 228). His second wife was Mary, daughter of Sir Thomas Reynell, and widow of William Goodwin, dean of Christ Church, who died on 11 Aug. 1627, and was buried with two of her children in St. Michael's Church, Oxford (Lansdowne MS. 985, f. 168). By her he had, with three children who died young, a son Matthias (infra) and two daughters, Sarah and Elizabeth. Sarah married William Hodges, fellow of Exeter, in whose favour her father resigned the vicarage of Bampton, 1634 (Boase, p. 63). Elizabeth married Dr. Henry Sutton, rector of Bredon (Nash, under 'Bredon').

A portrait of John Prideaux hangs in the hall of Exeter College. It is one of two copies made in 1832 by Smith from an original at Laycock Abbey, Wiltshire (Boase, p. 130). Two engravings are mentioned by Bromley.

Prideaux composed, in addition to a number of sermons, prefatory verses, &c., the following works: 1. 'Tabulæ ad Grammaticam Græcam introductoriæ,' Oxford, 1608, 4to. 2. 'Tyrocinium ad Syllogismum legitimum contexendum,' Oxford, 1629, 4to. 3. 'Heptades Logicæ: sive Monita ad ampliores Tractatus introductoria' (printed with the 'Tyrocinium' in the third edition of the 'Tabulæ,' Oxford, 1639, 4to). 4. Castigatio cujusdam Circulatoris, qui R. P. Andream Eudaemon-Johannem Cydonium e Societate Jesu seipsum nuncupat . . . Opposita ipsius calumniis in Epistolam J. Casauboni ad Frontonem Ducæum,' Oxford, 1614, 8vo. 5. 'Alloquium sereniss. Reg. Jacobo Woodstochiae habitum, 24 Aug. 1624,' Oxford, 1625, 4to. 6. 'Orationes novem inaugurales, de totidem Theologies Apicibus, prout in Promotione Doctorum Oxonige publice proponebantur in Comitiis. . . . Accedit . . . de Vtosis institutione concio . . . habita in Die inerum. An. 1616,' Oxford, 1626, 4to (2 parts). 7. 'Lectiones decem de totidem Religionis Capitibus, praecipue hoc tempore controversis, prout publice habebantur Oxoniæ in Vesperiis,' Oxford, 1626, 4to. 8. 'The Doctrine of the Sabbath,' translated, London, 1634, 4to (printed in Latin at end of 'Heydani Disputatio de Sabbato,' Leyden, 1658, 8vo). 9. 'Lectiones XXII, Orationes XIII, Conciones VI, et Oratio ad Jacobum Regem,' Oxford, 1648, fol. (including those previously published). 10. 'Fasciculus Controversiarum Theologicarum ad Juniorum aut Occupatorum Captum colligatus,' Oxford, 1649, 4to. 11. 'Theologiæ Scholasticæ Syntagma Mnemonicum,' Oxford, 1651, 4to. 12. 'Conciliorum Synopsis,' printed with above, and in English at end of M. Prideaux's 'Easie and Compendious Introduction.' 13. 'History of Successions in States, Countries, or Families,' Oxford, 1653. 14. 'Epistola de Episcopatu,' fol. (of which Wood saw one sheet). 15. 'Euchologia; or the Doctrine of Practical Praying, being a Legacy left to his Daughters in private, directing them to such manifold Uses of our Common Prayer Book as may satisfy upon all Occasions,' &c., London, 1655, 8vo. 16. 'Συνειδησολογία; or the Doctrine of Conscience, framed according to the Points of the Catechisme, in the Book of Common Prayer . . . for the private Use of his Wife,' London, 1656, 8vo. 17. 'Manuductio ad Theologiam polemicam,' Oxford, 1657, 8vo. 18. 'Sacred Eloquence; or the Art of Rhetoric as it is laid down in Scripture,' London, 1659, 8vo. 19. 'Hypomnemata Logica, Rhetorica,' &c., Oxford, 8vo. He also wrote some of the poems included in 'Justa Funebria,' &c., Oxford, 1613, on the death of Bodley, and 'Epithalamia,' Oxford, 1625, on the marriage of Charles I. He was credited (Wood, Athenae, ii. 291) with a large share in the compilation of Robert Stafford's 'Geographical and Anthological Description of all the Empires and Kingdoms ... in this Terrestrial Globe,' London, 1618, 4to.

Matthias Prideaux (1622-1646?), the second son, was born in the parish of St. Michael's, Oxford, in August 1622, matriculated from Exeter on 3 July 1640, was elected fellow of the college on 30 June 1641, was admitted B.A. on 2 Nov. 1644, and proceeded M.A. on 3 Dec. 1645. Before taking this latter degree he had become a captain in the king's service. He died of smallpox in London about 1646. Under his name was published 'An easy and compendious Introduction for Reading all sorts of Histories: contrived, in a more facile way, &c., out of the papers of Mathias Prideaux,' Oxford, 1648, 4to; a work, no doubt edited by his father, which reached a sixth edition by 1682 (Prince, Worthies, p. 660; Athenae, iii. 199; Boase, pp. xxx, 66).

[Wood's Athenae (ed. Bliss) and Fasti; Clark's Reg. Univ. Oxon. (Oxf. Hist. Soc.); Prince's Worthies of Devon; Fuller's Worthies; Boase's Hist. of Exeter College and Reg. (Oxf. Hist. Soc.); Masson's Life of Milton; Nash's Worcestershire; Green's Antiquities of Worcester, 1796; Perry's Church Hist.; Gardiner's Hist. of Civil War; Le Neve's Fasti; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Lowndes's Bibl. Man.]

E. G. H.