Reading, John (1588-1667) (DNB00)
READING, JOHN (1588–1667), divine and prebendary of Canterbury, born in 1588 of poor parents in Buckinghamshire, matriculated from Magdalen Hall, Oxford, on 4 May 1604, and graduated B.A. on 17 Oct. 1607. When he proceeded M.A. on 22 June 1610, he was described as of St. Mary Hall (cf. Wood, Athenæ Oxon. iii. 794; Clark, Oxf. Reg. ii. 271). Taking holy orders, he became about 1614 chaplain to Edward, lord Zouch, of Haringeworth, lord warden of the Cinque ports and governor of Dover Castle. After preaching at Dover many sermons before his patron, he was on 2 Dec. 1616, at the request of the parishioners, appointed minister of St. Mary's (Hasted, Kent, iv. 118). He secured a position of influence in the town, and subsequently became chaplain to Charles I and B.D., but of what university does not appear. Although his sermons advocated puritan principles, he supported the king's cause in the civil wars. In 1642 his study at Dover was plundered by parliamentary soldiers, and he was imprisoned for nineteen months. By direction of Charles I, Laud, then a prisoner in the Tower, bestowed on him the rectory of Chartham, Kent, on 27 Jan. 1642–3 (State Papers, Dom. ccccxcvii. 14). The commons declined to sanction Reading's institution, and appointed Edward Corbett. Laud refused to abandon Reading, and the house passed on that ground an ordinance sequestrating the archbishop's temporalities (June 1643; see Scobell, i. 42; Commons' Journals, iv. 450). A prebend in Canterbury which was bestowed on Reading at the same time brought him no greater advantage. In July 1644 he was presented by Sir William Brockman to the living of Cheriton, Kent, and in the same year was appointed by the Assembly of Divines to be one of nine persons commissioned to write annotations on the New Testament, which were published as ‘Annotations upon all the Books of the Old and New Testament, wherein the Text is explained, Doubts resolved, Scriptures paralleled, and various Readings observed,’ London, 1645, 1651, and 1657. But shortly after 1645, on the discovery of a plot for the capture of Dover Castle by the royalists, ‘he was inhumanly seized on a winter night, by command of Major Boys, son of Sir Edward, and hurried to Dover Castle, and next day to that of Leeds, where, continuing for some time, he composed the “Guide to the Holy City.”’ He was at length discharged by the parliamentary committee for Kent, and the restitution of his goods was ordered; but his livings were sequestered. On 8 Jan. 1646–7 he was a prisoner in the Fleet (Hist. MSS. Comm. 6th Rep. p. 152; Lords' Journals, viii. 653). On 10 March 1650 he attacked the right of unordained preaching in a public disputation with the anabaptist Samuel Fisher of Folkestone. ‘Fisher pleaded the affirmative, fetching most of his arguments from Jeremy Taylor's “Discourse of the Liberty of Prophesying,”’ which Reading had already criticised in print, and now attacked anew.
Reading was restored to his Dover living shortly before the king's return. On 25 May 1660 he presented to Charles, on his first landing, a large bible with gold clasps, in the name of the corporation of Dover, and made a short speech, which was published as a broadside. He was shortly after restored to Chartham, made canon of the eighth prebend of Canterbury (9 July 1660, Le Neve, Fasti), and reinstituted to Cheriton on 18 July (State Papers, Dom. Car. II, viii. 163). In October following the university of Oxford conferred on him the degree of D.D. per lit. reg. (ib. xix. 90). Before August 1662 he resigned the living at Dover. He died on 26 Oct. 1667, and was buried on the 30th in the parish church of Chartham. His son Thomas, of Christ Church, Oxford, born in 1623, proceeded M.A. in July 1647 when ‘lately freed from prison.’
The works of Reading, whose doctrine was strictly Calvinistic, include:
- ‘A Grain of Incense, or Supplication for the Peace of Jerusalem, the Church and State,’ London [8 April], 1643.
- ‘An Evening Sacrifice, or Prayer for a Family necessary for these calamitous Times,’ London, 1643.
- ‘Brief Instructions concerning the holy Sacrament for their use who propose to receive the Lord's Supper,’ London, 1645, 8vo.
- ‘Little Benjamin, or Truth discovering Error; being a clear and full Answer unto the Letter subscribed by forty-seven Ministers of the Province of London, and presented to his Excellency, January 18, 1648 … by J. R., a reall lover of all those who love peace and truth,’ London, 1648, 4to.
- ‘The Ranter's Ranting, with the apprehending Examinations and Confession of John Collins and five more, also their several kinds of mirth and dancing (by J. R.),’ London, 2 Dec. 1650, 4to.
- ‘A Guide to the Holy City, or Directions and Helps to an Holy Life,’ Oxford, 1651, 8vo.
- ‘An Antidote against Anabaptism,’ in part a criticism of Jeremy Taylor's ‘Liberty of Prophesying,’ London, 1645, 4to. An edition of 1655 bears the title, ‘Anabaptism routed,’ and is dedicated (8 Dec. 1653) to Sir William Brockman, kt., and his wife.
- ‘Christmas revived, or an Answer to certain Objections made against the Observation of a Day in memory of our Saviour Christ his birth,’ London, 1660. Dedicated to ‘my honoured kinsman, Mr. William Rooke.’
A sermon of his, delivered in Canterbury Cathedral (London, 1663, 4to), of which a copy is in the Bodleian Library, contains a defence of church music. Reading also left in manuscript, ready for the press, among other works, ‘A large Comment, Paraphrase, and Explication on the whole New Testament,’ fol., in Latin, dedicated to Monck, and sent to be printed at London in 1666; but, being prevented by the great fire, was delivered into the hands of Wren, bishop of Ely.
[The long notice in Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), iii. 794, was procured for him by White Kennett, whose father, Basil Kennett, was for a time Reading's curate at Cheriton, and was long intimate with Reading's son John, who must not be confused with John Reading [q. v.] the musician, though the latter was probably a relative (Lansd. MS. 986, fol. 70). Addit. MS. 18671, f. 184; Hist. MSS. Comm. 6th Rep. p. 152; Lords' Journals, viii. 653; Le Neve's Fasti; Walker's Sufferings, ii. 8; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Clark's Oxf. Reg.; State Papers, Dom. ubi supra; Hasted's Kent, iv. 118, 616 iii. 157, 391.]