Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Rainbowe, Edward
RAINBOWE, EDWARD, D.D. (1608–1684), bishop of Carlisle, was born on 20 April 1608 at Blyton in Lindsey, Lincolnshire, of which place his father, Thomas Rainbowe, was vicar. His mother, Rebecca, daughter of David Allen, rector of the neighbouring parish of Ludborough, was skilled in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. Edward's godfather, Edward Wray of Rycot, was second son of Sir Edward Wray of Glentworth in Lincolnshire. As the Wrays possessed much influence, the connection proved highly advantageous to young Rainbowe. After spending a short time at school at Gainsborough, he was sent in April 1620 to Peterborough, to be under Dr. John Williams, then one of the prebendaries, and an old friend of his father. When, in the following year, Williams was preferred to the deanery of Westminster and bishopric of Lincoln, Rainbowe removed to Westminster School. From Westminster he proceeded in July 1623 to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, as scholar, but in 1625 he received from Frances, dowager countess of Warwick, a nomination to one of the scholarships founded at Magdalene College, Cambridge, by her father, Sir Christopher Wray. He graduated B.A. in 1627, M.A. in 1630, B.D. in 1637, and D.D. in 1646. While in statu pupillari he was suddenly called upon by the vice-chancellor to act as terræ filius in place of one who was deprived of the office on account of his scurrility. Rainbowe was facetious without coarseness, and acquitted himself to the satisfaction of his auditors. In July 1630 he accepted the mastership of a school at Kirton-in-Lindsey, but soon moved with some Cambridge contemporaries to London, settling first in Fuller's Rents, and afterwards at Sion College, so as to make use of the library. He took holy orders, and preached his first sermon in April 1632. After making a vain application for the chaplaincy to the society of Lincoln's Inn, he was appointed curate at the Savoy. In November 1633 he was recalled to Cambridge. The master and fellows of his college elected him to a by-fellowship on the foundation of Dr. Goch, with a promise of the first open founder's fellowship that should fall vacant. He became a successful tutor, numbering among his pupils two sons of the Earl of Suffolk, with whom he became intimate, and two of Francis Leke, baron Deincourt. The noble families of Northumberland, Warwick, and Orrery also showed him favour. In 1637 he accepted the small living of Childerley, near Cambridge; in 1637 he became dean of Magdalene; and in 1642 master, by the gift of the Earl of Suffolk. From this last office he was dismissed, by order of parliament, in 1650. In 1652 he accepted from the Earl of Suffolk the small living of Little Chesterford in Essex. He became rector of Benefield in Northamptonshire in 1658, by the presentation of the Earl of Warwick, after the Earl of Orrery had procured for him the concession of induction without the intervention of the ‘Tryers.’
On the Restoration in 1660, Rainbowe was restored to his mastership at Cambridge, and appointed chaplain to the king; in the following year he was made dean of Peterborough, and removed to that place, but he returned to Cambridge on being appointed vice-chancellor in November 1662. In 1664 he was elected bishop of Carlisle, on the translation of Dr. Richard Sterne to the archiepiscopal see of York. Rainbowe was consecrated in July 1664, in London, by Dr. Gilbert Sheldon, then archbishop of Canterbury, and in September in the same year he arrived at his palace of Rose Castle, near Dalston, in Cumberland. Thereupon he resigned his college mastership and his deanery of Peterborough, though he might have retained one or other in commendam with his bishopric. While thus giving up an assured income in obedience to his principles, he had to borrow money to defray the charges of his consecration, first-fruits, and his journey and settlement in his diocese, where the ruined state of his palace involved him in a heavy outlay on building, and in a protracted litigation about dilapidations with his predecessor and metropolitan, Sterne. Rainbowe found much in his diocese that required reform. Negligent clergy did not hesitate, when rebuked, to publicly affront their bishop, and his outspoken denunciation of immorality appears to have offended some great lady about the court, once a friend of his, who revenged herself by preventing his translation to Lincoln in 1668. Rainbowe's hospitality and liberality were unbounded. In years of scarcity, when his own stores were exhausted, he bought barley and distributed it to the poor, sometimes as many as seven or eight score being relieved in one day by the porter at Rose. To the poor at Carlisle and Dalston he made regular allowances. He paid for the education of poor boys at Dalston school, and for putting them out as apprentices; he supported poor scholars at the universities; he subscribed largely to the French protestants and to foreign converts.
Rainbowe died on 26 March 1684, and was buried, by his own request, at Dalston (1 April), under a plain stone, with a simple inscription. His wife Elizabeth, daughter of Dr. Henry Smith (his predecessor as master of Magdalene), whom he married in 1652, survived him. After his death she resided chiefly at Dalemain with her sister's son, Sir Edward Hasell. She died in 1702, and was also buried in Dalston churchyard.
Small portraits on panel of Bishop Rainbowe and his wife are preserved at Dalemain. An oil portrait of Rainbowe is at Magdalene College, Cambridge. Another portrait of the bishop by Sturt forms the frontispiece of Banks's ‘Life,’ 1688, and was reproduced in 1798 by Richardson. A framed copy of this reproduction is at Rose Castle.
Rainbowe was famous as a preacher. In later life he abandoned the ornate rhetoric of his early days for exceptional plainness and perspicuity. Three only of his sermons were printed; the first of these, ‘Labour forbidden and commanded’ (London, 1635, 4to), was preached at St. Paul's Cross on 23 Sept. 1634 (cf. Brit. Mus. Cat. s.v. ‘Rainbow’). Rainbowe planned a treatise, to be called ‘Verba Christi,’ a collection of Christ's discourses and sayings, but it was never completed. With his life, by Jonathan Banks (anon. 1688, 16mo), appear some meditations by him, and one or two short poems, as well as the sermon preached at his funeral by his chancellor, Thomas Tullie.
[His life, mentioned above; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (ed. Bliss), iv. 865; Nicolson and Burn's Hist. of Cumberland and Westmorland, ii. 290; Hutchinson's Hist. of Cumberland, iv. 633; Articles in the Carlisle Patriot, February 1873; Jefferson's Carlisle Tracts; Diocesan Histories, ‘Carlisle,’ by Chancellor Ferguson; private information.]