Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sampson, Richard

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602597Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 50 — Sampson, Richard1897William Arthur Jobson Archbold

SAMPSON, RICHARD (d. 1554), bishop successively of Chichester and of Coventry and Lichfield, was educated at Clement Hostel and Trinity Hall, Cambridge, proceeding B.C.L. in 1505. Then he went for six years to Paris and Sens, and, returning, proceeded D.C.L. in 1513. He entered Wolsey's household, became his chaplain, and as Wolsey wished for some one to look after his interests at Tournay, of which he was bishop, he placed Sampson there as his chancellor; he was also, it seems, vicar-general there and one of the council. The position had its difficulties, as the French bishop did not surrender his rights. Sampson was at Tournay in April 1514. In the July following Wolsey complained of his want of assiduity, and Sampson excused himself on the ground that he wanted time to study civil or canon law. In September 1514 he was at Brussels on an embassy to the Lady Margaret, and on 8 May following Tunstal, More, and others joined him in the commission which was to arrange commercial matters. Meanwhile, on 20 March 1514–15, he had been admitted an advocate. He was some time longer at Tournay disputing with the officials of the old bishop. He took an important part in the negotiations as to the peace and as to the custody of Tournay, which was finally given up to the French in 1517. One of the results of his connection with that place was that he made the acquaintance of Erasmus, who held a prebend there.

On 21 Aug. 1515 Sampson wrote to Wolsey begging for preferment. He also sent him a piece of tapestry. In 1516 accordingly, doubtless by Wolsey's influence, he was made dean of St. Stephen's, Westminster, dean of the Chapel Royal, and king's chaplain; but he remained at Tournay a short time longer, and was on 12 Jan. 1516–17 made king's proctor for Tournay. On 3 Feb. following he became archdeacon of Cornwall, and on 23 April 1519 prebendary of Newbold. This year he was present at a diet held at Bruges, and in October 1519 Wolsey offered to place him over his household; he, however, wisely declined. In 1521 he was incorporated at Oxford, and had to deal with some heretical books. In October 1522 he left Plymouth with Sir Thomas Boleyn, and reached Bilbao after a fight with six Breton pirate ships. They proceeded to Valladolid (31 Oct.) on an embassy to the emperor. Sampson was to remain there some years as resident ambassador, no small testimonial to his merits, his companion changing from time to time. Sir Richard Jerningham took Boleyn's place in June 1523, and, with Sampson, signed the treaty of 2 July 1523 with Spain against France. Sampson moved about with the court (cf. Letters and Papers of Henry VIII). In March 1525 he was at Madrid. In June 1525 he was at Toledo, Wingfield and Tunstal being with him. Curzon came in July.

Sampson was recalled in October 1525, and succeeded by Dr. Edward Lee [q. v.]; but he did not reach the English court till early in 1526. Meanwhile he had not been forgotten. He was made dean of Windsor 14 Nov. 1523, and 18 June 1526 vicar of Stepney; about the same time the prebend of Chiswick in St. Paul's Cathedral was given him. On 28 March 1527 he received a prebend at Lincoln, and that he was well thought of by Henry is shown by his being ordered by the king to reply, on 15 July 1527, to the Hungarian ambassador Laski. On 11 Jan. 1528–9 he was made archdeacon of Suffolk. He was one of Henry's chief agents in the divorce and in the question of the supremacy. On 8 Oct. 1529 he was sent with Sir Nicholas Carew on an embassy to the emperor. They went to Bologna and Rome, and saw pope as well as emperor. He was summoned to parliament in 1530 to speak about the divorce as a doctor, and he presented the opinions of the universities, and signed the petition to the pope in its favour. He was made, 19 March 1532–3, prebendary and, 20 June following, dean of Lichfield. In 1533 he published a Latin oration (see below) in favour of the king's supremacy, which was answered by Pole in his ‘Pro Ecclesiasticæ Unitatis Defensione.’ On 31 March 1534 he became rector of Hackney, and resigned Stepney and his prebend of Chiswick, and 16 March following was made treasurer of Salisbury. On 11 June 1536 he was made bishop of Chichester, and having been appointed as first coadjutor to Pace at St. Paul's, he was on 20 July allowed to hold the deanery there in commendam. He acted for Henry in the case against Anne Boleyn. In the same year he, Cromwell, and the bishop of Hereford were named in a commission to treat as to the peace of Europe. In 1537 he took part in drawing up ‘The Institution of a Christian Man.’ The next year he was in a commission against anabaptists, and took part in the trial of John Lambert (d 1538) [q. v.] His general attitude was, however, conservative (cf. Strype, Memorials, I. i. 499, &c.). He incurred the suspicion of Cromwell, and, after Latimer had been confided to his care in July 1539, he was himself placed in the Tower (April 1540). He made a confession and submission and was released, but he resigned the deanery of St. Paul's the same year. His general attitude was conservative, and he is said to have supported the six articles in parliament (Strype, Cranmer, p. 743). On 19 Feb. 1542–3 he was translated to Coventry and Lichfield, and for the next few years acted as lord-president of Wales. He retained his bishopric under Edward VI, and in April 1551 was appointed commissioner to treat with Scotland (Lit. Remains Edw. VI, Roxburghe Club, p. 312). He did homage to Queen Mary, and died on 25 Sept. 1554 at Eccleshall, Staffordshire. He was buried on the north side of the altar of the parish church there.

Sampson was an able civil servant whom circumstances compelled to become an ecclesiastic. He was faithful to Wolsey and to Henry, and very attentive to his civil duties. Brewer calls him a time-serving ecclesiastic. Of his conduct in his various preferments we know little. A choir book of Henry VIII's time, formerly belonging to St. George's Chapel, Windsor, contains two motets in the Mixolydian mode with his name affixed to them. They are now in Royal MSS. 11. e. xi. Sampson's chief works were: 1. ‘Oratio quæ docet hortatur admonet omnes potissimum Anglos regiæ dignitati cum primis ut obediant,’ &c., London, 4to, 1533. 2. ‘In priores quinquaginta psalmos Daviticos familiaris explanatio,’ London, 1539, fol. 3. ‘Explanatio in D. Pauli Epistolam ad Romanos atque in priorem ad Corinthos,’ London, 12mo, 1546. 4. ‘Explanationis Psalmorum secunda pars,’ London, 1548, fol.

[Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. i. 119, 545; Brewer's Reign of Henry VIII, i. 58 &c., ii. 14, 15, &c.; Gough's Index to the Parker Society's Publications; Strype's Works, passim; Sussex Arch. Coll. xxix. 35 (a curious letter as to the diocese of Chichester); Letters and Papers Henry VIII; Cal. State Papers, Spanish Ser., 1509–25, 1525–6, 1529–30, 1534–5, Venetian, 1520–6, 1527–33; Froude's Hist. of Engl. iii. 450, 481, ix. 470; Div. of Catherine of Aragon, p. 274; Friedmann's Anne Boleyn, i. 151, ii. 289, 325; Narr. of the Reformation (Camden Soc.), pp. 53, 55 &c.; Thomas's Hist. Notes, i. 270; information from H. Davey, esq.]

W. A. J. A.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.241
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